Santa Barbara five-piece Gardens & Villa have taken the influences and scenery of their California heritage to produce their self-titled debut. You’re liable to hear this album at any hip beach-side party.
The album starts out nicely enough with their single “Black Hills.” It’s synthy, the keys are loud and the sound futuristic, like the opening of an ’80s dance hit. “Cruise Ship,” the album’s second track, keeps the same pace (not too slow), but with a little more elegance.
But then you get to “Thorn Castles,” and the album loses steam quickly, even if it’s only a two-minute song. Thankfully “Orange Blossoms” makes a comeback to retain the attention of the album’s listeners. The song sounds similar to Passion Pit’s “Eyes As Candles,” except a little slower, and the lyrics mimic “Let Your Love Grow Tall”: “I know how love grows like a fire in your grove/Think of me like a swarm of bees buzzing around your leaves/To pollinate means ecstacy.”
Vocalist Chris Lynch’s voice in “Chemtrails” sounds sad and a little spooky, although the lyrics sound like the band getting their hippie on: “Dandelions flying high in the marmalade sky/flower petals on high waves, just fly.” The contrast between the dark synth-pop and the light lyrics throughout the entire album is notable.
If you somehow find yourself trying to look cool in front of a bunch of young people from Silver Lake, just play Gardens & Villa. Especially “Sunday Morning.” The lyrics say, “It’s Sunday morning and we’re sitting happily playing guitar talking about adventures to stars,” and there’s be a good chance that’s exactly what you’re doing. You’ll be fine.