As Far As Gardens Go

Carroll

Shattered Orb Records, 2016

http://carroll.bandcamp.com

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/31/2018

Imagine you’re in a coffee shop, where the vibe is chilled-out, and so is the background music. You then hear a song that’s perfect for the setting. However, even though this track is comfortable as pleasant background music, it is also interesting enough to not go unnoticed, but not in an overtly attention-grabbing way. This is the kind of music on As Far As Gardens Go, by Philadelphia-based Carroll.

Take, for instance, the album’s closing number “Goat,” a sleepy cut that does not stir up any emotions or causes any excitement. “Goat,” however, is one of the weaker tracks on this record; it is like a generic fragrance that pleasantly and non-intrusively fills the room with its presence. On the other hand, the album opener “Talking To My Own Mirage” is more like a rather exotic – albeit equally pleasant and non-intrusive – fragrance! With its super groovy bass and drums, this is one of the best tunes on this disc.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Barring a couple of instances, such as “How It Used To Be,” and the aforementioned “Goat,” As Far As Gardens Go doesn’t make you doze off in its laidback funk. Although totally unassuming, the songwriting is great, and the musicianship is even greater. Without complicating things, Carroll weaves through different musical styles, without the listener even realizing because they do it with such smoothness and effortlessness.

“Hover” and “Red Giant” have an ‘80s soul and soft rock influenced sound. “Easy Target” also has a retro soul bent, but it is lush, featuring shimmering guitars and a sort of haunting quality that is absent on any of the other tracks. “Sun 1” is a breezy indie pop song that is quite dancey, especially due to the bass and drums, making it stand out in this otherwise musically sparse number.

Plain vanilla, As Far As Gardens Go isn’t. At the same time, this record is just too genteel to have an explicit penchant for weirdness. This makes cuts like “Shout” and “Flytrap” come off as a total – though still pleasant – surprises. Meanwhile, “Shout” features weird cacophonic synthesizer music and equally quirky song-structure and “Flytrap” has a first half that consists of thunderous retro “progressive rock” jamming, juxtaposed by a completely opposite lethargic second half. Both songs are eccentric by any standard. And on this album, they definitely add some drama and just a couple of more reasons why the relaxed atmosphere of this disc is so deceiving.

Rating: B+

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