The debut LP from Vacant Gardens plays on a lot of favorites around here, combining the blissful descent of shoegaze with the drawn curtain comfort of bedroom synth pop for a record that’s immediate and personal but still evocative enough to splash your inner emotions across the stereo spectrum in an effusive pink haze. Doesn’t hurt that the band is built from a couple of past familiars as well, with the duo consisting of Glenn Donaldson (Skygreen Leopards, Art Museums, Reds, Pinks and Purples) and Jem Fanvu (Tune-Yards, Cavity Fang), operating a bit outside their typical pop enclaves. With touches of Pale Saints, Curve, and early Creation-era Ride and Slow Dive in the mix, the pair carves at the frothing bouquet of Dreampop with a deft hand that lets on their dedication aesthetics come to the forefront. Many have tried to capture the same aesthetics but they usually come up as a cheap facsimile, Vacan Gardens don’t ever even catch whiff of such knockoff tendencies. They are ripped out of time, and beautifully so. The entire album glows with a backlit brilliance, radiant and ambient at the same time.
The sounds come seeping out from the speakers with curls of fog that obscure hooks in the maw of feedback fanged guitars. Jem’s vocals carry a heartbroken twinge that twist the knife between the lungs and lets the blood flow from the listener. The pain is pleasure, though, in this case. Every song is bittersweet manna from a disinterested heaven, that comes billowing out at the listener, bringing the pang but letting the listener float away on a cloud of narcotic churn to balm the burn. I fear this might slip between the cracks of public consciousness in the goldfish memory of 2020, so don’t let this pass by without absorbing the delightful ache that Vacant Gardens bring to the most overcast evenings, dragging you down with them in blissful delight.
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