Garageland

Do What You Want

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Garageland's second album was released in the band's home of New Zealand in 1999 by Flying Nun Records and in the U.S. in 2000 by Foodchain. It was recorded at Neil Finn's home studio in Auckland. Do What You Want has gone gold down under. "Love Song" is a psychedelic rocker that opens the album, as Wedding Present and James collide with Nirvana. Garageland has often been compared to Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson, and the reason can be heard on this track as it shifts between pop chords to grunge distortion and then slides a cello/xylophone arrangement under the rock rage. The dense production is like a strong bloody mary, where each of the flavors can be distinct but ultimately leaves you with a unified taste. Also similar to the Beach Boys' greatest masterpieces like Pet Sounds, the production always serves the greater cause of the pop melody. Never self-indulgent, Do What You Want rocks from start to finish and is a great sophomore album, perhaps better than Last Exit to Garageland. Some shoegazing, nerd-punk bands (like Weezer) would love to write a song as catchy and with as much to say as "Trashcans." The repetitive guitar chords and swirling melodies sound like the kind of anthemic ballad that tops the charts in Britain. Fans of Gomez and James will find Garageland their emotive equals. Garageland writes infectious guitar melodies that are stunningly hypnotic, like in "You Will Never Cry Again." But their lyrics also are standouts. Garageland maintains a particularly personal voice throughout the record and, like Brian Wilson, focuses not on issues with overarching social implications, but important daily events, like how dyeing one's hair can be rebellion in "What You Gonna Do?" and how small-town claustrophobia has its comforts in "Good Morning." "Good Morning" actually sounds like a punk-pop take on some of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's LP, with its trippy melodies and tick-tock-like cadence. The intimacy rooted in daily life was the result of the band members trying to write about their experiences on the road. Singer Jeremy Eade explained that Do What You Want expresses the strange limbo of feeling like aliens at home and foreigners abroad. For anyone who has waited for a catchy song to come around to top Third Eye Blind's "Semi Charmed Life" for addictiveness, "Kiss It All Goodbye" is the replacement. Mixing all the best qualities of the Spin Doctors, Hanson, Cheap Trick, Old 97s, and Green Day together, this is perhaps the best song one has heard in years; it's the kind to which you'd dance till you drop at a concert and then, with no cynicism, wonder why good bands don't play their hits twice a night. The very next song, "Not Empty," provides perhaps one of the best back-to-back song combinations. One listen to Do What You Want and you'll ask why no major studio movie has mined this band for its soundtrack. Do What You Want sounds like the best spawn of James with Brian Wilson trying to do his best Ric Ocasek impression while turning the knobs. An amazingly cohesive album, considering their last was basically a collection of singles. Do What You Want also includes songs that will make you glad you own a stereo and that it goes to 11. If it doesn't go that loud, it is time for a new hi-fi. Garageland's Do What You Want provides 13 pieces of evidence why corporate radio in America is terrible. And so it will remain until this New Zealand quartet tops the charts.

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