Carnivals have many characteristic identifying factors–from cotton candy, to unbelievably addicting games that you know are rigged but are determined to win, to bright colors and saccharine sounds. Allston-based Houseguests infuse pop punk with this delightful, if sometimes creepy, imagery on their latest EP, A Carnival Game.

Muted melodies mingle with buoyant rhythms, crafting songs that are reminiscent of the early 2000s with upbeat hooks and drawled, languorous lyrics. But Houseguests offer their own flavor in the mix, with narrative lyrics and tracks like “Serotonin” that change tempo faster than you can spell it. A Carnival Game is as playful as the name suggests.

Likewise for the band, who, when asked to describe their sound without genres compared it to a mascot. “It’s like a sports mascot: upbeat and fun-sounding with a deep-seated sadness,” said drummer Evan Linsey.  “Except this mascot just put in its two weeks notice, so there’s a newfound touch of optimism.”

In terms of a carnival, Linsey compared the band and their sound to a Ferris wheel, with every member packed in one car. “When we started writing music together, we were just getting on the ride and didn’t have a ton of perspective.  Now I think we’ve all gained a little of that and we’re doing things more deliberately.” This sentiment clearly shines through in A Carnival Game, with carefully paced melodies counterpointing playful instrumentation.

Embarking on a tour to support the EP, Houseguests will be making stops throughout most of New England throughout August. Who knows, they may even end up on your couch. They plan on focusing on live shows before hitting the studio again. 

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