Death in the Garden, Blood on the Flowers by Irving

Love is dead. At least, I think that's what I'm supposed to take from Death in the Garden. Whether or not these crewmates of Aaron Espinoza's Wacky Wild Shipride did it in seems irrelevant; they're rather downcast about it anyway. Irving's correctly realized the way you get hipsters to enjoy pop music is to monotone your way through it, to be as detached as possible from the heavy stuff. Thankfully, the characters in Irving's world are all having detached breakups and detached sex, rationalizing lies through sour grapes, fearing commitment, fucking midday, and occasionally throwing themselves through shower doors. In some cases, love is literally dead.

Funny, then, that it's not the loud-ish "Situation" that bridges the distance (it's too stiff to let loose much), but "Jen, Nothing Matters to Me", where Brian Canning's weary mumbles betray the propulsive bassline and jangly guitars. Indie pop lives and dies on its hooks, and on at least half the album, Irving manages to pull through with their candidly jaded, summery tunes. At their best, they recall a less debauched Dandy Warhols ("I Want to Love You in My Room", "The Longest Day in the Afternoon") or maybe a little bit of Spoon, both good company to be in. The issue comes mostly towards the end; Death in the Garden is horribly bottomloaded and mostly midtempo, making the last third essentially redundant. At times, you wonder if love's not the only thing that's dead, but mostly, Irving stays afloat.

Death in the Garden, Blood on the Flowers

Essential: "Jen, Nothing Matters to Me", "The Longest Day in the Afternoon", "Situation"
Quintessential: "I Want to Love You in My Room"
Non-essential: "Lovely, Just Like Her"

Rating: Great
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