Album Review: The Garden – Haha

Welcome to a land that’s familiar, yet slightly out of sync, and a little bit unnerving. Welcome to The Garden and their latest album ‘Haha’. The Californian duo have put together an album that at first glimpse makes about as much sense as their ‘vada vada’ philosophy – “… an idea that represents pure creative expression that disregards all previously made genres and ideals” – an album which, (like their philosophy), if you give it time, and consider all the factors, actually makes quite a lot of sense. Does that make sense? Dunno? – welcome to Vada Vada Land.

As Wyatt puts it “We respect any artist that is going to make everyone envious of this generation in 20 years. We want our recordings to have their own feel to them, so when you hear the bass or the drums you know that it’s – us.”

17 tracks long with only two coming in (not much) over the 3 minute margin, and over half nipping under the 2 minute mark, ‘Haha’ has plenty of opportunity to showcase what The Garden are about. The twins Wyatt and Fletcher have a strong DIY ethic – so that would put them in the punk category then? They’re a couple of pretty boys, who dress in thrift store glam,are not afraid to wear make up and  have walked the Paris catwalks for a leading fashion house – so they’re not punks then ??? You see, The Garden are a contradiction, difficult to categorize and that’s juts how they like it. “Why strive to be a part of a scene when you can create your own? Vada Vada is an alternative reality that we put ourselves into so we don’t have to fit in.” So in that sense, ‘Haha’ is the perfect showcase for what The Garden are about.

I’m not sure you could have a favourite track on this album, it’s diversity lends itself to you picking a different one dependant on your mood. Electro-punk tweaks saddle up next to break -beats rubding shoulders with raw power bass riffs, genres collide and organised chaoes reaigns. Friday night dicking around with your mates – then ‘We Be Grinding’ would fit  the bill quite well. In stark contrast; at this specific moment in time ‘Vexation’ would be my choice…

For those of you that need the comparators, The Minutemen is an obvious reflection, early Beastie Boys, maybe less so. On occasion you pick up Devo and other art/avant punk bands but you can’t ignore the distinctive drum and bass infusion, especially on tracks such as’Jesters Game’ and ‘Cloak’. But to be honest it’s better and far healthier to just accept that The Garden don’t really sit next to anyone in class. It’s not that they’re loners, and they’re far from all things to all men. It’s just that they are a bit, urm, weird, in that kind of ‘I’ll be their mate, but I’m not inviting them round to my house to play.’ kind of way.

Stripped back, occasionally laconic but far from basic, it’s not a totally consistent album. Some listeners will love some, but hate other tracks. ‘Haha’ has moments of pure brilliance, but at times, there’s also an air of irritation. Much like their live performance, the album jumps around quite unexpectedly, but rather than been disjointed, it makes it … interesting, and for me, that is what gives The Garden their appeal. 8.5/10

‘Haha’ is out now on Burger/Epitaph Records.

CD and vinyl versions are available HERE   or for digital downlaod see HERE

The Garden European Tour:
26.10 Molotow Bar, Hamburg (DE)
27.10 Yuca, Cologne (DE)
28.10 Paradiso [upstairs], Amsterdam (NL)
29.10 Trix, Antwerp (BE)
30.10 Madame Moustache, Brussels (BE)
31.10 Ramsgate Music Hall, Ramsgate (UK)
01.11 Bodega, Nottingham (UK)
02.11 The Exchange, Bristol (UK)
03.11 Green Door Store, Brighton (UK)
04.11 Dingwalls, London (UK)
05.11 Hare and Hounds, Birmingham (UK)
06.11 Gullivers, Manchester (UK)
07.11 Broadcast, Glasgow (UK)
08.11 Headrow House, Leeds (UK)
10.11 Badaboum, Paris (FR)
11.11 Les Z’Eclectiques, Cholet (FR)
16.11 Bar Rossi, Zurich (CH)
19.11 Arena, Vienna (AT)
20.11 Comet Club, Berlin (DE)
21.11 Stengade, Copenhagen (DK)
22.11 Cafe Mono, Oslo (NO)
23.11 Babel, Malmo (SE)
24.11 Fangelset, Gothenburg (SE)


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