Leo Bhanji made his debut on major streaming services with a handful of singles in 2019. Among the three singles, "Nope!" stood out in particular. "Nope!" saw Leo Bhanji dip into the realm of rock-tinged, rap-adjacent pop, joining a cohort of rising artists like Busu and Brevin Kim.
Compared to the upbeat "Nope!," No Guard employs a more subdued soundscape. The EP opens with the soft, mellow tones of "Rice." The following song, "White Hills," is a sweet tribute to the object of Bhanji's affection. He sings, "I'll always be here for you, I know you hate it," his quiet resignation shining through with each breath. "Blade of Hope," which was previously released as a single, is a beautiful piano ballad with organ embellishments. As is the case with the rest of the EP, the stripped-down, minimal production allows Bhanji's unencumbered rasp to take center stage.
The highlight of the project comes in the form of closing track "The Wades." The track is led by the crisp march of the drums, tied together by Bhanji's reverb-drenched vocals and the smooth guitar. With a melody that'll stick in your head for hours, "The Wades" showcases Bhanji's penchant for crafting persistently catchy refrains.
No Guard is just that: a commitment to letting his guard down. Swimming in themes of emotional candor and clarity, the EP details his internal musings as he comes to grips with the reality of unrequited love. The refreshing honesty and tenderness that Bhanji displays in No Guard signals a maturity far beyond his 20 years.
With the release of a promising new EP and the support of one of the UK's most impressive record labels, there's no telling where Bhanji will go from here.
Listen to No Guard below: