The Garden – ‘Kiss My Super Bowl Ring’ review: an impressive collage of scattered, urgent art-rock

The Garden are all about self exploration, with lyrics diving into personal emotions that are as diverse as the sounds on this explosive album

The Garden are never what you expect them to be. On first impression, they seem to make rough, fun, unapologetically straightforward punk. With twin brothers Wyatt and Fletcher Shears, though, there’s a catch: as soon as you think you have understood them, they switch it up – sometimes within the same song.

2015’s ‘Haha’ raised the cult band’s profile in indie circles, and a subsequent tour with Mac DeMarco didn’t hurt either. They often combined their raw punk sound with lyrical whimsy (from ‘Everything Has a Face’: “My milk has a face / My lamp has a face / My desk has a face”…. you get the idea). 2018 follow-up ‘Mirror Might Steal Your Charm’ continued down the same path, with lyrics such as “swing swing swing yourself / Spit like a scorpion / Get the nearest chump wet / Feed him to your poison”, from ‘Stylish Spit’, painting a similar picture of a nihilistic wonderland.

With ‘Kiss My Super Bowl Ring’, The Garden have kept up their own brand of artsy, nonchalant charisma with more madcap genre-blending, biting self-awareness and child-like humour. The first track, ‘Clench To Stay Awake’, is the perfection introduction. Lurching from laconic guitar pop to punishing grindcore, it sets the tone for a record that threads together hardcore, metal, synth-wave, pop, R&B, hip-hop, punk, rock and house music mixed with starkly confessional lyrics. “Here comes another day / Where trauma becomes my fate,” that opening track begins.

There are tasters throughout of all the things that inspire the Shears brothers, from punk bass lines that sound like Blink-182 deep cuts (‘Lowrider Slug’) to synth melodies seemingly inspired by mid-2000s MGMT (‘AMPM Truck’). ‘A Fool’s Expedition’ sees them try out straightforward ‘80s hardcore, while ‘Hit Eject’ makes a foray in SoundCloud emo trap beats. ‘The Kind of Cutting Corners’ explores surf rock with a dark edge and ‘Lurkin’’ somehow borders on synth-wave, vaporwave and early 2000s R&B.

There are overarching lyrical themes of despondency (“I feel empty with that pointless tired fanfare / Please fuck off” they sneer on, erm, ‘Please, Fuck Off’) and existentialism (from ‘AMPM Truck’: “Don’t fall asleep, I am not invincible / Could’ve been worse, there could’ve been a death toll / I can’t fall asleep at the wheel”). The Garden are ultimately all about self exploration, their lyrics diving into personal emotions that are as scattered as the genres on each track.

You get the overarching sense that they are more than a little bored with the current musical landscape and want to inject it with their own restless brand of creativity. If this is art rock, then the Shears brothers have crafted a pretty damn impressive collage.

Details:

Release date: March 13

Record label: Epitaph Records

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