Zero 7 The Garden by Brandon Horn

Zero 7. I remember them. Over the past five years, they’ve edged their way into various pop culture spots, perhaps most significantly the Garden State soundtrack, as well as television shows like Sex and the City and Six Feet Under. Their downtempo sound has always seemed intermittently appealing, but a little lacking, relying more on cheery optimism than substance. After mulling over their new record, I am quite satisfied with my initial gestalt.

The album starts off with Futures, an oh-so-exhilarating track that makes you want to off yourself. Only not in a good way.

Fortunately things pick up with the catchy Throw It All Away. The drab Gonzalez hands off the vocal duties to the somewhat soulful Sia and things are going along swimmingly. Then the song is repeatedly jolted by these massive speed bumps known as a chorus. Or maybe it’s a bridge. I can’t really tell, nor do I care. My point is that I utterly dislike it. The jovial attitude of the song is broken up by this whiny interlude that stunts the tempo and makes me want to kick puppies. And I *love* puppies!

The next song, Seeing Things, is apparently referring to that infernal mirror maze in the carnival. Only, imagine the hideous physical embodiment of annoying electronica, sauntering into this predicament unaware. Everywhere it turns are slightly different iterations of its god-damned self. It starts breaking mirrors like the proverbial “elephant in a Chinese carnival mirror maze.” Only then do you begin to understand the source of this sound’s bad luck.

This is followed by The Pageant of the Bizarre, which calls on that all-too-familiar phrase “catch a fallen star…” Repeatedly. Ad naseum. Seriously. Listen to it. I stopped hours ago and still can’t keep those trite lyrics from re-reverberating through my embittered skull.

I suppose I could do a song-by-song review, but really, why? When boiled down, this album is a tired reprisal of their earlier work, with a few sparkling moments balanced by equally dulling sounds, lyrics, and sickening repetition.

The Garden is not entirely objectionable. But it’s not appealing, nor is it a significant progression from their previous work. As it is with so many bands, if you enjoy their older work, you’ll likely find moments of satisfaction in this album. But if you didn’t, or only found it passingly palatable, I’d advise against harboring high hopes.

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