Gardens & Villa

Gardens & Villa

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After recording in Starfucker's home city of Portland, Oregon, Gardens & Villa released their debut album on Yeasayer's label Secretly Canadian, and coincidentally, Gardens & Villa sound a lot like a cross between those two groups. Similarly, Levi Hayden, Shane McKillop, Adam Rasmussen, and Chris Lynch make warm indie pop with airy falsettos and retro synths. It’s a tranquil listen, even when a picnic song like the chillwavey “Orange Blossom,” with its pseudo-sexy hook “Think of me like a swarm of bees/Circling around your knees/To pollinate means ecstasy,” gives way into the chugging acoustics of “Thorn Castles,” a jam that's brisk enough for a jog on the beach. References to the outdoors are peppered all over the album -- from “Black Hills” to "Carrizo Plain"-- and this naturalist theme, combined with the digital production, gives the record a nice sense of balance. Unfortunately, there’s an underlying feeling of insincerity. More often than not, the lyrics are literal interpretations of song titles. "Spacetime” is about being in space, and “Cruise Ship” is about being on a cruise. And even while the production is great and the songs are catchy, Gardens & Villa's lack of originality can be distracting. The spacy, bassy arrangements of “Spacetime” point right to Beck’s Modern Guilt album, where there is also a song called "Chemtrails," and it’s easy to tell that Band of Horses is an influence just by looking at the cover of Infinite Arms.

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