June 07, 2003

Garlands "Bedroom Music"

Garlands may be the only band from the Britpop-era of New York indie-rock renaissance of 2000 that isn't being hyped to death. While Interpol and Longwave have graduated to the "next big thing" level, Garlands remain a relative unknown quantity, a secret pleasure for those who happen to hear them. Much time had passed since they released their debut and, like when Interpol and Longwave released their most-recent records, I was surprised that Garlands still existed!

What makes Garlands better than their contemporaries is that they're not as obvious about what they are doing. While Interpol reek of Joy Division and The Chameleons, and Longwave taste like Radiohead, Garlands simply sound like Garlands, and I'm most happy about that. Of course, you can't escape the fact that Garlands sound more than inspired by the sounds of Sire Records, circa 1984-1989. I'm sure that they've got a few The Mighty Lemon Drops in their record collections, but I can't really prove that--nor do I really need to.

Instead of boring goff, they have a style and a sound that reminds me of those heady "college-rock" days, where intelligent lyrics and good production was more important than, say, hair-do's and "indie cred." Garlands could have easily been a band on those great Just Say Yes compilations, especially the wonderful "Pillow Talk." In this day of imitators, it's good to know that some bands can still make a strong record on the basis of being "inspired by." There's not a single naff track on Bedroom Music, nor can you say "wow, this sounds like (enter hip band of yore here)" ANYWHERE.

I'm a sucker for melody, and Garlands have it in spades. Lead singer Raffi Yegparian has one of those warm, croony, butter-melting voices, which, in my humble opinion, is Garlands' greatest strength. You really cannot help being drawn in by the sad and supple singing on "It's Insane How Far Away The Stars Are," and the mixtape you're making for your latest crush NEEDS to have "To Make Sure" or "Romance" on it. It makes your tape stronger, and it should draw them in. You do the rest.

--Joseph Kyle

No comments: