Everlasting by Robin Guthrie (Review)

As familiar as Guthrie’s music might be, it rarely sounds stale or recycled.
Everlasting - Robin Guthrie

Robin Guthrie released his second solo disc, Continental, earlier this year. While the album contained the usual sonic elements that folks have come to expect from the Guthrie name, the disc was also a marked departure. Continental found Guthrie, for lack of a better term, “rocking out” and moving towards a sound that was much more pop-oriented, and less ethereally-minded than the music one might be tempted to associate with Guthrie.

Everlasting is a companion EP to Continental, a self-described attempt to write “perfect dream pop.” As can be inferred from that comment, the four songs on Everlasting are probably much more in-line with people’s expectations of Guthrie, as the man’s music moves closer to the territory that he explored as part of Cocteau Twins.

The EP opens with “Bordertown,” which is closest in sound to Continental; it might be seen as something of a transitional piece as light drum programs patter away beneath effortless guitars and graceful keyboard melodies. “A Sigh Across the Ocean” is the EP’s most haunting track, and could easily pass for a long-lost single from Cocteau Twins’ Treasure album. Chiming guitar notes drift lazily across the song’s surface, leaving shimmering trails behind them as hushed drones sigh away in the depths.

Gently pulsing tones, a hypnotic bassline, a light organ, and more of Guthrie’s effortless guitarwork all combine on “Fountain” to do their best to lull the listener… and it works quite nicely. The title track closes out the EP, a treat for fans of Guthrie’s earlier work, as guitar structures reminiscent of Victorialand mingle with the more playful melodies that Guthrie subtly and wonderfully works in during the song’s final half. The song ends in a hail of distortion and disembodied voices that brings the EP full circle, again revisiting the “heavier” sound of Continental.

Some will argue, and rightfully so, that there’s nothing new on Everlasting, nothing we haven’t heard before from the man. While some might criticize Guthrie for not branching out more and being more “cutting edge” — where’s the glitch, the sampling, the gratuitous mash-ups? — is that really such a bad thing?

As familiar as Guthrie’s music might be, it rarely sounds stale or recycled. Even those songs that hearken back the most to the Twins’ glory days are still refreshing and even comforting to hear. Despite having inspired countless followers, there’s still no one who can make a guitar ring, chime, or drift quite like Robin Guthrie.