Gardens and Villa is a five member band hailing from the sunny seaside shores of Santa Barbara, California. After a hitch hiking expedition up the west coast, the group came out with a self titled debut album in 2011. Fast forward to February 2014 and meet their second installation in the industry, Dunes. A retro pop predominated sound fitting within the parameters of indie rock.
Dunes is short and simple, slow tempoed and synthesizer heavy with a side of bansuri flutes. The album carries remnants of beach bop roots alongside a newly formed Midwestern gloom. In an effort to avoid complacency and explore new territory, the band moved from the bright and shiny shores of California to the Midwest chill of Michigan to record their second album, and the change of environment is evident.
The ten song tracklist is a product of modest quality, failing to hit any high notes. Midway through, at Purple Mesas, the band finds some serenity but tapers off with an abrupt ending leaving the listener cut short. Their first album amounts to a more happy go lucky moment, accompanied with the fuzzy-fizzy kind of pop music feeling. Jump to the present and the mood is more subdued and sedated. Quoting Kevin Liedel’s review for Slant Magazine, “Dunes is essentially a disillusioned adult’s perspective on the idealism of their halcyon day.”
Plainly put, the recent release of Gardens and Villa is chalk full of manufactured nostalgia. But then again, this seems to be the trend in today’s indie music scene. Whether it’s psychedelic rock, electronic pop, or funkadelic hip-hop, the circulation and refurbishment of past sound samples are often most prevalent. Ultimately, the proximity to the pacific was a defining characteristic of their 2011 release but with the change of location for Dunes, the outcome was sullen.
By Rob Donovan