Safeguard, I’m A Stranger To Myself (EP) | Album Review
Up-and-coming, five-piece, UK pop-punk collective Safeguard delivers on their second EP of 2017, ‘I’m A Stranger To Myself.’
We need to get to know Connor Dale, Declan Gough, Martyn Marsh, Zak Lonsdale, and Denholm Horn. Who are these dudes you ask? These dudes are the five members of up-and-coming, UK-based pop-punk band Safeguard. Safeguard aren’t a household name stateside, but, the potential of the North Yorkshire collective is ‘through the roof.’ The collective dropped their first EP earlier in 2017 (When Did You Stop Caring?) and they return with another, I’m A Stranger To Myself, to close out 2017. The product that Connor, Declan, Martyn, Zak, and Denholm delivers is enjoyable, well-rounded, and chocked-full of potential.
“Crux” kicks things off briefly. All of a minute-long, the instrumental sets the tone for I’m A Stranger To Myself. Beginning relatively poised with tasty melodic guitar, the intensity level gradually picks up. Pummeling drums join the mix and the dynamic level increases.
“Falling into the abyss / In light of opportunities I missed / A lonely hunter at his trist / Amy inner fire is absent.”
“Harbour” serves as the proper first, full-length number from I’m A Stranger To Myself. From the start, the energy is turned up to the nth degree. After a souped-up intro, whiny, hard-hitting, commanding vocals from frontman Declan Gough appear in all their pop-punk glory. In addition to his powerful, commanding pipes, the lyrics are clever, incorporating poetic touches throughout. The chorus is chief among selling points:
“I’m trapped inside the walls that I built so high / Orchestrating my escape for the hundredth time / All the years that I have spent, stumbling through my ascent / Falling from this climb.”
Electricity continues to run through the ‘assured’ “November.” But thematically, is “November” so assured? According to Gough, no:
“‘November’ is about social awkwardness: being dragged to a house party, feeling like you don’t fit in and just wanting to go home. Then as you make your way to leave, you spot a girl walking into the party that takes your breath away and you can’t keep your eyes off. It’s really like seeing someone you like but being too scared of rejection to do anything about it.”
Despite the quick tempo, signature pop-punk riffs, and enthusiastic vocals, Gough asserts early on, “Showing up here just to save face / I’ve never felt so out of place.” He goes on, as his aforementioned commentary suggests, to be taken with a hot girl, but he’s “frozen.”
“I’ve never seen someone like you before / The way you walk around, the scent you wear, has left me wanting more / I’m all frozen up and it’s taken its toll / And I’m not sure if it’s you or just this bitter November cold.”
Thematically, “November” ends up being incredibly relatable and arguably, the crowning achievement of I’m A Stranger To Myself. Gough’s raw emotions really show up towards to the end as he repeatedly sings “whoa” over a thoughtful change of groove and overall feel.
“No Man’s Land”
Closer “No Man’s Land” contrasts the songs that precede it. It’s slower and moodier. Sure, pop-punk is always moody to some extent – isn’t that the point? – but this is the ballad. Gough exhibits a slightly smoother vocal tone for the majority of the song, but the coarseness of his pipes isn’t completely missing in action. Furthermore, the assertive, whiny sound returns full-fledged on a powerful ending, where his balladry transforms into fist pumping.
All in all, I’m A Stranger To Myself, the second EP from Safeguard, is a good one. The music is dynamic, energetic, and hard-hitting. The vocals are commanding, passionate, and fittingly, whiny. The lyrics are honest, yet have poetic touches and most importantly, convey authentic emotions. This is a great start for the UK pop-punk band, and certainly whets the listener’s palette for a full-length studio album.