Mirror Might Steal Your Charm
There are some records you hear and immediately get a Lynchian sense of how subjective art can be. While The Garden has always evaded definition to hilarious ends, they really push the envelope to that end on their new record. As bizarre as it can be, their fearless writing and often amazing hooks make the record a treasure trove for the right kind of listener. Though the record is undoubtedly full of character and talent, though the level of indulgence may mean this record is too out there for many listeners, at least for now.
Through its warped journey of sound, the album tears open on “Stallion” as shredding riffs often sound just as animal as mechanical. Every little grimy groove is endlessly addictive, which makes up for the abrasive qualities of the metal choruses. Against a very Twin Peaks-like synth-line, “Make A Wish” finds the Garden leaning into hip hop with the trippy finesse that made Beck stand out. All in all the combination results in a mixed back, as they create something subversive that feels a little too carefree to be gripping.
Blaring horns make “Shameless Shadow” feel just as unnerving as its ridiculously overcooked bass. Through the band’s unhinged and jazzy approach to rock, they mix so many weird syncopations into their rollicking beats that you’ll be dying to hear it again after a few listens. “Who Am I Going To Share All Of This Wine With?” roars out with a grunge heft and a dense sound that feels incredibly 90’s. Their artistic reimagining of hardcore energy into something surf-rock and atypically rhythmic results in a song that may be too incoherent for some listeners.
The catchy hooks and bizarrely old samples on “:(” almost feels like a parody of retro hip hop, especially in some of the cheesy sounds they drop at times. Despite some of the tight beats in the early half of the song, this fast-and-loose style results in a fun jam rather than a full song. “A Message For Myself” roars out its breakneck and aggressive hip hop, made even more abrasive with its club-hook energy. Even as they bring down a lot of tension in their synth work, this track surprisingly feels like one of their most coherent.
“Call The Dogs Out” marks the most rock-focused end of the record, with their funk-infused and chorus-drenched playing feeling distinct and refreshing. After so much really out their music, this energy is a really nice break that shows how strong the Garden is when they hone in on one idea. This said “Good News” is also one of their most intoxicating hip hop tracks, mixing and N.E.R.D. level of groove-making with cheesy tones. Their lyricism here however will be the most divisive, as an in your face brashness is both to the point and offensive at times.
They dive back into a smothering metal rush on “Voodoo Luck” as they spin out overpowering energy between their hazy effects and barrage of drums. While the sloppy can feel perfect at some points and too loose at others, they really seem to be having fun in their performance. The Propellerheads influence is at its strongest on “Banana Peel” as dirty horns blend with their blissful synths. Luckily the lush bass hook combines with their endless beat work to make this track flow a lot more gracefully than it should.
“Stylish Spit” cuts through as their most accessible hip hop and electronic track of the record, as a sublime production and clever verses really set the track apart. With such a strong base to start from, it’s a shame they don’t do more with the song, although it honestly doesn’t suffer too much. As they close out in a bouncy rock energy on “No Destination” it’s truly wondrous to hear the glistening harp lines in the back of the track. Even as their drums take over the track at times, The Garden create such a sense of mood on this track that you won’t mind the change-ups.
Words by Owen Maxwell