Established in 2011 by fraternal twins Wyatt and Fletcher Shears, The Garden are a “conceptual punk band” based in Orange County, California. On their website, the duo state their sound “consistently defies categorization” and that they “continue to break ground in their self-inflicted ‘Vada Vada’ genre”. If you think that’s ambitious, you should make your way through their 17 track debut – it’s filled with wild, loud, unusual “concepts” which represent “pure creative expression” and disregard “all previously made genres and ideals” (Wyatt Shears, 2015).
‘All Smiles Over Here :)’ is a trippy, bold opening track, but don’t be deceived by the track’s simplicity – these “smiles” are delivered through clenched teeth. Like a set of human traffic lights, ‘Red, Green, Yellow’ sees vocalist Wyatt Shears declare “I’m just doing my job” – which is to alternate between three states of colour and sound in the song’s brief playing time of 1 minute, 24 seconds. ‘Everything Has A Face’ is an enjoyable, ridiculous track which asks you to “put your hands up if you’ve only got a face”, and is even shorter in length (1:12).
‘Crystal Clear’ has some punk weight behind it with aggressive, heavy bass and Wyatt’s violent vocals threatening to “knock the other ones out”. The twins are indeed “crystal clear, crystal clear” on this track – which makes it one of the strongest on the album.
The false promise of ‘I’ll Stop By Tomorrow Night’ will ring loud in the ears of all substance lovers and trouble makers, and by the time listeners reach eponymous track ‘Haha’, they’ll feel comfortable with the ‘Vada Vada’ style of the album – and hopefully be on board with the duos’ casual ethos of “I was pretty curious, I just wanted to try something so mysterious”.
‘Vexation’, ‘I Guess We’ll Never Know’, ‘This Could Build Us A Home’ and ‘Cells Stay Clean’ fly by in a rush of electronics and fast-paced vocals, and ‘Egg’ brings a welcome change in sound with its enthusiastic keyboard pieces. ‘Devour’ is a seedy, downbeat track, which boasts some unusual/memorable lyrics: “like a ghost with flip-flops, I’m not heavy”. ‘We Be Grindin” is the perfect track to “get crunk” to in “the club”, whilst closing track ‘Gift’ seals this parcel of mad, sonic sound.
“Together the twins are an acidic concoction; unstable, sexy and probably toxic” – an apt description of The Garden’s Haha, whose sound will split listeners right down the middle.
Haha is released on October 9th via Epitaph.