Arriving more than 30 years into their strange and winding run, Cinnamon Sea, a five-song mini-album from psychedelic outsiders the Garbage & the Flowers, sounds just as mysterious and outside of time as anything else in their discography of scattered, insular sounds. After beginning in Wellington, New Zealand, in the late '80s, the band blended the most unwieldy aspects of the Velvet Underground with moments of hushed, even wounded, introspection. Over the years, the group would relocate to Sydney, Australia, shift their lineup multiple times, and release their music in uncommon zigzag patterns where material from old tapes would resurface years or decades later and new recordings would show up in wildly limited editions. All of that history is largely immaterial to Cinnamon Sea, which continues the band's sound in a way that could fit neatly anywhere in their catalog. Recorded in a disused public courthouse in a small Australian village, the production on Cinnamon Sea has the same homespun quality as much of the band's output, capturing a live-in-the-room energy where tempos fluctuate and the instruments blur into each other amid textural distortion and faint tape-hiss auras. Songs like the woozy "On the Radio" and the gorgeous opening track "Eye Know Who You Are" rank among some of the group's best songs, combining simple, open chords with the push of distant drums and fuzzy, droning melodic lines. The lower-fidelity recording combines with the spirited, somewhat optimistic compositions perfectly, creating a gentle wash of psychedelic sound on the full band tunes. They change gears for the malfunctioning folk-rock of "Red Star," which sounds like the angriest protest song the Clean never wrote, and take things down even further on bummer acoustic tune "Jacob B." Cinnamon Sea is short but powerful, feeling like a complete statement at half the length of most albums. It's another bold and curious chapter in the Garbage & the Flowers' story, and further evidence that they're one of the more beguiling bands out there.
Cinnamon Sea Review
by Fred Thomas
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