Even at the height of one’s career, performing a cover song — much less a whole album’s worth — is a risky move that could either serve to endear fans or alienate existing ones. This is especially true with timeless songs that have existed in the lexicon of rock and roll for the last 30+ years, as enough nostalgia exists for those tracks that to try and rework them today could be seen as lazy at best or pandering at worst. Thankfully, if three-piece indie rock band Guards’ cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” is any indication, listeners are in for a treat on not just this single, but their latest cover-song-laden studio album, More Cover Songs.

Formed in 2010, Guards are the NYC-based brainchild of Richie Follin, who has worked with several bands throughout his illustrious career. Though they have released comparatively little music — just 2 LPs and EPs each, among a smattering of singles — they have quickly become stalwarts of the indie music scene, having performed at Coachella, Lollapalooza and Primavera Sound and served as supporting acts for MGMT, Queens of the Stone Age and Two Door Cinema Club. With their confident arrangements and emotion-laden vocals, it only makes sense that they would look to cover one of music’s most acclaimed love songs in recent memory, The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven.” Alternative rock progenitors themselves, English group The Cure are the perfect vessel by which Guards can showcase their talents, especially considering the importance the band has played in Follin’s life:

The Cure has always held a special place in my heart. They were the first concert I took my little sister to and they played for almost 4 hours. It was hard to pick which of their songs to cover, but I happened to turn on the radio in a rental car, and ‘Just Like Heaven’ came on so I took it as a sign. I love the constant building of melodic layers in the song and the lyrics are some of Mr. Smith’s best.”

Guards’ cover of “Just Like Heaven” sounds remarkably similar to The Cure’s original, yet modern enough that no one could mistake it for originating any earlier than 2022. With its gradual build-up of rich musical layers, alongside Follin’s pitch-perfect and story-like vocals, “Just Like Heaven” reminds listeners today just how exciting, nuanced and important this song was — and still is. With its immense highs — “Spinning on that dizzy edge / Kissed her face and kissed her head / Dreamed of all the different ways¬† / I had to make her glow” — to rapid lows — “And found myself alone, alone / Alone above a raging sea / That stole the only girl I loved / And drowned her deep inside of me” — the track takes listeners on a wave of emotions, and serves as the perfect opening track for Guards’ newest LP, More Cover Songs. Initially started at the beginning of the pandemic as a way to bring joy into darkness, the album — and especially “Just Like Heaven” — serve as a reminder that even in the most bleak days, there can be light found in nostalgia and pure enjoyment.

Guards’ third studio album, More Cover Songs, released August 2 via CGR. Richie Follin has also been working on a feature film project, in addition to his other musical ventures. Expect more music to release from Guards later this year. In the meantime, check out their cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” below!

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