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The Garden

Zero 7

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Album Review

In Zero 7's last album, When It Falls, there were more than noticeable hints that the band was taking the idea of a pop song a lot more seriously, which should then make it unsurprising that with Garden they've stepped even further in that direction, all but leaving their downbeat roots behind. Instead of being what the music is based around, the synthesized aspects once so prominent now act more like the thread that sews the different squares of the quilt together and keeps them in place. The actual substance, the fabric, is much more organic; it's the guitars, the keyboards, the horns, and the rich vocal harmonies. Sia returns as a guest artist, as does Swedish star José González, whose Jim Croce-esque voice works fantastically with the verdant plot of land that Zero 7 has managed to cultivate. The songs are creative and interesting, explorative without losing their focus or their point, moving about from being in love to reflections on life to obsession. "Throw It All Away" has a nice, easy summer groove, "Today" uses sparser instrumentals over electronic percussion, the vibraphone in "The Pageant of the Bizarre" adds a circusy, Air-like feel, and "Crosses," which first appeared on González's album Veneer, is embellished with changing dynamics, a Fleetwood Mac-esque piano line, plenty of keyboard effects, and a string section. While Sia's emotive voice has been long proven to be an excellent fit with Zero 7's music, the relative flatness of González's adds a nice texture to the rolling movement behind it. And main songwriter Henry Binns, who also take lead vocals occasionally, is a master at adding harmonies that bring a kind of light pastoral intensity to the pieces, and gives them a great sense of structure. With Garden, Zero 7 has created what could be the ultimate summer evening record: warm pop hooks, lush instrumentation, unobtrusive electronica elements, and '60s-style harmonies that all come together into superb, wonderfully descriptive songs. And what could be better than that?

Customer Reviews

It Grows on You

Just give it some time, you really need to digest this one, you'll find it presents you with pleasant sounds after awhile, not the usuall but not bad.

Zero 7 fans, don't be dissuaded by negative reviews!

When this album came out 3 years ago, I was seriously disappointed in it. I hated it. It was nothing like the Zero 7 sound I'd come to love. For more than a year I avoided it and never gave it a chance. That changed when I discovered Last.fm. It was great since my ipod can't really keep up with those long hours on campus in the computer lab. While listening to my Zero 7 radio station one day, I heard a kicky beat that unconsciously made me start bobbing my head. And when I heard Sia Furler's unmistakable vocals, it was like a lightening bolt through my brain. The song was 'This Fine Social Scene'. How I managed to miss this gem during my initial listen to The Garden so many months ago, I didn't know. What I did know was that I would be buying the song off iTunes the minute I got home. Through my Zero 7 Last.fm channel I next discovered 'Waiting to Die,' followed by 'Crosses,' and then 'Today.' More than a year after buying 'Today,' I took the plunge and got the entire album. I'm so glad I did. The fact is, this album sounds NOTHING like their previous albums--but that isn't necessarily a problem. Despite the different sound, these songs are very much Zero 7. They contain just as much magic and soul as 'Destiny' or 'In the Waiting Line'. It took me 3 years to realize this and I'd hate for any other Zero 7 fans to make that same grave mistake. This album is amazing and has more heart than anything currently in the iTunes top 10. Give it a chance. I don't think you'll regret it.

Not the same band without Tina, Sophie

Well, this album is about the biggest let down I've experienced in quite some time. I expected the band would build on the previous 2 great albums Simple Things and When it Falls. It is appearant that Tina Dico and Sophie Barker were the driving talent behind the previous albums.

Biography

Formed: 1997 in London, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The men behind the European downtempo outfit Zero 7 — producers Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker — launched their careers in the music industry as tea boys at a London recording studio. Shortly thereafter, however, both were in the thick of action, working alongside a string of well-known British musicians such as the Pet Shop Boys and Robert Plant. They spent the best part of the '90s honing their production skills behind the scenes....
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The Garden, Zero 7
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