By Keller Bradberry
Artist: The Garden
Album: Mirror Might Steal Your Charm
Release Date: March 30, 2018
The Garden is an Orange County-based punk duo consisting of Wyatt and Fletcher Shears. On March 30, 2018, the twins released their seventh album Mirror Might Steal Your Charm, which includes 12 nutty and fast-paced tracks.
I first found The Garden in the fall of 2017 when they opened for Mac Demarco and the Flaming Lips at the Moody Theater in Austin. The drum and bass duo was energetic, rebellious and fun. During their numerous live shows, they will come out in full jester makeup and attire. In an interview with Self-Titled magazine, musician Ariel Pink asked them if they considered themselves gods to which Wyatt laughed and said “More like jesters, and everyone else is the king. We’re here to entertain.” The twins followed their musical interests starting at 10 years old, with LA/OC punk influences like The Minutemen and Agression. The Garden has been on tour since their formation in 2011, with both twins pursuing their own musical projects, Fletcher’s being Puzzle, and Wyatt’s being Enjoy. They signed with Epitaph records in 2015 for their album Haha.
Mirror Might Steal Your Charm was self-produced and recorded in a single session. Their creative process operates on their homegrown “Vada Vada” philosophy, which they describe as ‘an idea that represents the pure creative expression, disregarding all previously made genres and ideals.’ In Mirror Might Steal Your Charm, you can find hip-hop influence, electronic infusions and the familiar Orange County punk sound from their earlier records.
I’d describe this album as the observations of an introspective jester that understands that many things in the world are out of our control, and we all have different perceptions about the reality of ourselves and what we control. In an interview with Aztec Music Group, Wyatt said “You might see yourself a certain way, you might think you have charm. But looking in the mirror to see something different might take that charm away.”
One of my favorites from the record, “Make A Wish,” illustrates that just a wish has no effect on the manifestation of that wish. In the chorus, the listener hears “Like a drunk wizard in my ear, whispering words I’d like to hear, make your wish son, make it quick, choose yer words wisely so they’ll stick” and then in the first verse, “I don’t make wishes, I make things happen, Let the tide drag me out, find my own way back.” These lyrics are like a reminder that nothing is free, and it is ultimately up to ourselves to make our own path.
“A Message For Myself” feels like a journal entry about problems and how the unfairness in the distribution of problems is something nobody has any bearing over: “Maybe you’re being punished for your past life… Because in the end, everyone has problems and life tries to teach you something, no matter how many times you’ve lived… Nothing you do makes you more human than anyone else.” This song still has the flavor of a rebellious punk song, but it makes a very mature remark on the difficulties we all face in life and how we reason with them.
This album comes off very easily as a punk jam album, without much lyrical depth, but I think that as a band that invests in their unique sound and genre-bending as much as they do is bound to work that quirkiness into their lyrics. I don’t think their lyrics are poetry in sonic motion, but they’re part of what makes The Garden “Vada Vada.”
When I first saw the Shears twins on stage, I was impressed at the sound they were able to create with just a drumkit and a bass, and that musical direction is still alive and well in this album despite the hip-hop influences and sound samples they infuse into it. One of these infusions is on “Shameless Shadow.” Specifically, the horn riff in the verse, which reminds me of “Jungle Groove” from the soundtrack of the SNES Classic, Donkey Kong Country. Despite this, I’d recommend Mirror Might Steal Your Charm to any indie-head with a taste for punk music, but I also recommend attending one of their live shows to best experience The Garden.