Efterklang touring member Anna Broensted crafted her own unique sound as the leader of Our Broken Garden, and the group’s second album, Golden Sea, put their music in an even more particular place: it's a swirl of sounds too strange to be immediately accessible, but too smooth to be called challenging. Broensted and company’s skill at fashioning atmospheres is stronger than ever on Golden Sea, from the somber, rippling pianos on “The Departure” that conjure a moonlit journey, to the hidden final song that glows like an aurora borealis. Nearly every track feels like it’s swathed in fog, and on songs such as “In the Lowlands,” Broensted's vocals remain one with the mist surrounding them. While her voice is lovely, her melodies stay in a safe, similar range instead of scaling highs and lows -- an approach that extends to much of Golden Sea. Yet, just when it feels like the album has receded into the background for good, something intriguing pulls it back into focus: the hand drums and Middle Eastern-tinged melisma on “Nightsong” or the distant electro-toms on the oddly cheery “The Burial.” Our Broken Garden reaps even richer rewards whenever the band ventures into more daring territory: “The Fiery and Loud” isn’t particularly fiery or loud, but its yearning mood and fairy-tale melody give it urgency and drama, while “Garden Grow” is a surprisingly sexy standout with a stomping, Goldfrapp-esque beat and visceral lyrics like “rip my heart out if you have to” and “throw me naked on the floor.” All the elements of Our Broken Garden's sound are promising on Golden Sea, but Broensted and crew are still learning to move beyond subtle, hypnotic music and toward something more dynamic.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares