[sic] Magazine

Gardens & Villa – Gardens & Villa

What do recent pop converts Yeasayer , former Abba fetishists Here We Go Magic and popular songwriter Richard Swift all have in common? Answer: Santa Barbara quintet Gardens & Villa profess to having “band crushes” on the lot of them. So, when the opportunity arose last year for them to work with Swift on their self-titled debut, naturally, in the absence of the other pair, they jumped at the chance.

Allowing him free reign over their material, the results are predictably rich, graceful and dreamy. Most commonly found lazing around in psychedelic 60s pop, such as the likeable “Chemtrails”, which recalls the heady days of pre-remix era Simian , or the chilly, timeworn extract “Sunday Morning”, which suggests at more than an appreciation of The Kinks, Gardens & Villa are equally at home in glittery, strum-along structures as here best exemplified by the echo-y cut “Thorn Castles”.

Opening the album like the last vestige of night, “Black Hills” is the only glimpse of Gardens & Villa’s underbelly. A darker, electro-built psyche odyssey it momentarily aligns these West coast dreamers with the recent, pricklier grooves and exploits of Suuns . Otherwise, and due in part to Chris Lynch ‘’s soothing vocal, there’s a strong, summery sway to proceedings that prohibits heavy labour, and the overpowering, woozy funk of “Orange Blossom” makes the most of that feeling, even trying its luck with a burst of panpipe/flute towards its end. And, for the most part, they get away with it too – perhaps only really falling flat later amid the cosmic hi-jinx of “Spacetime”.

Just as it’s tough to spring into life first thing in the morning, so too is it hard to find firm anchor in Gardens & Villa’s sleepy running order. If, in future, they can manage to ground one or two of these flights of fancy then that future is there for the taking.

Advised downloads: “Black Hills” and “Sunday Morning”.

~Gardens & Villa is out July 4th 2011 in the UK and July 5th in the US on Secretly Canadian .~

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