I teetered on the fence of whether to review Vanguard Villains’ “Brooklyn Demos” for a little while because it didn’t seem new to me. It sounded familiar to a fault: Downtempo songs about longing with strummed guitar and a strong bass-and-drum line. Loud-soft combos. Urgent hooks and choruses. But when I got to closer, “Unexecuted,” two things happened. First, I realized I had listened all the way to the end, and the time had passed quickly. Second, I found a song that was unlike anything else on the record, with exception guitar work and a bizarre fast break at the end.
Going back over it, I found I dug songs like “Fade” and “Night Howling,” radio friendly as they are. The album has movement and flow, and repeated listenings reveal a depth that is not easily apparent at first. It’s easy to write this band off as another group of ‘90s alt-rock throwbacks from Brooklyn. You can’t throw a rock into a basement below 6th Avenue without hitting one. But that would be a mistake. The Vanguard Villains are more than a few steps above that. These demos have strong potential, and it will be interesting to see how the band develops.