Music Reviews
Gardens & Villa

Gardens & Villa Gardens & Villa

(Secretly Canadian ) Buy it from Insound Rating - 5/10

Today’s repository of synth-laden bands continues to outbreak without a cure in sight. Conceivably due to generational appeal, it’s a form of music that defines a youth’s psychological make-up – it’s unbound, exciting, and impulsive without a required core of emotion. This applies to the ones who do it flawlessly: those who infringe our hearts and command a kinetic response. Throngs have amassed various local scenes (think Brooklyn), intent on face-lifting that unmistakable eighties sound by adopting exotic sounds. And just like trying to name the 2010’s, they'll color a new decade with more retrograde replication until we finally have that new defining act.

Gardens & Villa are tightly knit inside a cosmic snow globe, floundering with countless others with baffled optimism. Brandishing a form of synth-driven pop that leans heavily on abstract ideas, the Santa Barbara, California fivesome take flight when they light up with a sunny disposition that echoes their native soil. Album opener Black Hills announces its opening with warm, canorous textures and naturalist images such as being bathed in sunlight and mountainous terrain. They’re not exactly about to expand any awareness, but the hallucinogenic stupor of Sunday Morning filters through a Beastle-esque harmony that implies a looming natural disaster in the minds of earthy prognosticators.

Even when their songs are glutted in synths, Gardens & Villa find a happy center in which they accentuate a dollop of textures that occasionally strike amidst different variations. Cloaked in lo-fi ambience, Star Fire Power finds them at their most exhilarating, cultivating on Bear in Heaven’s bristly dark grooves. And then there’s the noirish pounce of Cruise Ship, in which lead singer Chris Lynch transmutes a fuzzy, high-pitched chorus that bounces off against a series of reflective walls. Just like labelmates Yeasayer, they also have a penchant for chant-like vocal melodies and percussive precision to cope with a narrow-minded view of world music.

The lone connective thread found in Gardens & Villa is that of its dedication to build a vigorous gamut of synths. As it turns out, once that defining element is out of the mold, you’re left with skeletal compositional biases that amount to very little. In their favor, there’s ample evidence suggesting an imminent room for improvement. I mean, they’re delineating not one, or two, but three different kinds of song: bigheaded synth rockers are satisfactory; choppy folk tunes are humdrum; pan-ethnic influences need to go immediately. All they need is a good repose to burn off that insatiable appetite.