Gardens & Villa – Gardens & Villa
Ambient hazy pop album with a disappointing penchant for filler
Citing well-worn influences like Gary Numan, Blur, The Kinks and Spoon, Santa Barbara five-piece Gardens & Villa offer up an agreeable salve of electro-pop, chamber rock and psychedelic folk on their debut album.
Recorded with vintage singer-songwriter / producer Richard Swift, this long-player sees the remodelled punk rockers forsake anarchy for ambience and hardcore for pop haze – with variable results.
The album is robustly bookended by the sinewy, evocative dream-rock of opener ‘Black Hills’ and the flickering electro-folk balladry of hand-clapping swansong ‘Neon Dove’, but in between, the album falls heavy on pedestrian retro-pop (‘Space Time’; ‘Thorn Castles’) and lacklustre psych-pop (‘Chemtrails’; ‘Sunday Morning’).
It’s all fairly pleasant if unremarkable, with the stellar exception of ‘Star Fire Power’ – an incandescent synth-pop centrepiece whose shimmering beats, soaring vocalisms and disco cadences suggest that Gardens & Villa up the ante when they raise the tempo. They should do it more often.