Monday 10 December 2012

Golden Gardens - How Brave The Hunted Wolves

Album review by KevW

You can reasonably expect to assume that a band who list their location as "Utopia" on Facebook are either going to be a Goldfrapp tribute act or, in one form or another, something would fall under the dreampop banner. As you're unlikely to find us featuring tribute acts, this should narrow things down further. From what we gather, the duo that make up Golden Gardens are based in the Seattle area, which is unlikely to be comparable to Utopia, but you never know. 'How Brave The Hunted Wolves' is their second full-length and taps into fantasy-land dreampop and the lighter side of shoegaze, although it does this in a very modern way and is speckled with innovative ideas.

Strangely, that Goldfrapp remark (one of their early singles was called 'Utopia') ends up fitting rather well, with Golden Gardens having a definite pop aspect to what they do that's not too distant from how that band sounded before they turned into a chart-storming electro-disco act, with 'Swirl' being particularly reminiscent. With a lot of shoegaze and dreampop (they refer to themselves as "dreamgaze") records, the lush sound is provided by overlaying guitars and sometimes synths and also a heavy use of delay and other effects pedals. Golden Gardens' approach is broader with the bass-heavy 'Flutter' seeming to incorporate a wider variety of techniques along with the tried and tested methods, as does the slightly gothic title-track.

There are more conventional "dreamgaze" songs here and they're expertly made. 'An Apparition' feels more traditional and could be from 1991, and the wispy 'Transparent Things' is pure ethereal bliss. A few more sinister twists and turns are included; 'Gemini' is particularly spooky and 'Alcove' sings of "dancing in this realm of hell". The standout 'Ostara' would make an ideal single choice and is quite stunning in its gentle waves. This haze carries on into the more upbeat 'Pearls Pierce The Mist', another man-of-the-match contender. Finishing, as many a decent album does, with an epic last track in 'A Sudden Violent Rainstorm', Golden Gardens leave you knowing that it's very unlikely that this will be your only venture into their swirling, magical world.

Golden Gardens' website

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