The Garden - Everything Is Perfect [cassette] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Garden

Everything Is Perfect [cassette] (2013)

Burger Records

The Garden's debut self-titled album was exciting, but it never capitalized on its potential. Composed of brothers Fletcher and Wyatt Shears, the band ripped though about a dozen twenty-second songs, the vast majority of which were just bass and drums basically running scales. It was brief, haunting, minimalistic and clever, but it could have done so much more. Everything is Perfect, the duo's second LP, is 14 minutes long (two and half times as long as their debut), and does everything the debut release promised.

Everything is Perfect is still daringly minimalistic. Still just bass, drums and vocals, the band rip through ten songs at a rapid pace. The sound is heavy, muddy and thick, still sounding like this is music recorded in a cave… at winter… at night… in the South Pole. But, while the songs on the debut release blended together, here the band stretch the bass and drums out to their full potential, crafting ten songs that are wildly different from each other, but that are still tied to a central sonic theme.

The album opens with "Aunt J," a twenty or so second instrumental that plods along with a cold drum beat while the bass descends like horrifying mist. Then, things get weird. "Estamous Aqui" revs up the music to a hardcore pace while the brothers, in lieu of singing, squalk like birds for about a minute. Then the song suddenly stops, and "Rainbow" opens with a drone metal rumble after which the bass and drums crunch forward while vocals seeped in reverb float on the top. The effect is weird and wonderful. The abstract use of instruments and vocals makes the album both psychedelic and goth. The sound is cold but massive.

With minimalism, sameness can be a real threat. Everything is Perfect avoids repetition but constantly switching up songs. "Express/Sector 28" completely bucks standard structure and is more of a progression than a "song." "Everything is Perfect" has lyrics like a sunny Am-radio hit, but the cold bass and ghostly lyrics suggest that the opposite is true. The album ends abruptly with "Rights," which is built on a herky-jerky bass riff while the band coos "I have rights!" over the music. Despite the avant garde nature of these tunes, it's impressive how listenable they are. By maintaining but three elements in their music at all times, they make it digestible and stimulating, as opposed to fantastic or boring. Everything is Perfect is one of the most interesting and clever releases of 2013 so far, and I'd be willing to bet it will be in the same position at the end of the year.