Album Review – Hearts in Gardens by Kyle Forester (2020) (Self Released)

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With some musicians you can never really gauge whether they are drawn to the coolest of acts or whether the acts they become associated with just become cool(er) with their presence. Including membership of the Crystal Stilts, Purple Mountains, Woods and peerhaps most notably, The Ladybug Transistor on his musical CV, Kyle Forester is one such  unfathomable.

As is often the case when such ‘interminable cools’ return to their solo projects the musical contrast is often quite startling and this is certainly the case with Forester. For his solo work and most emphatically this album, shows that he has the beating heart of  all things 70s pop, all things hummable and all things melodic. These thing and indeed this album have the natural feel of being cool despite themselves rather than being the result of an attachment to the latest en vogue musical genre/commodity.

As such Forester / Hearts in Gardens, largely revels in the sort of subtleties that let the quality of every note breathe and linger in an album that can be segregated into three definitives. Initially guitar pop fights for centre stage. Laced with the slightest of countrified Americana, beautiful tracks such as I know What Your Doing and Turn of the Century (see below) suggest where guitar pop might have gone if early 80’s Liverpool had been usurped or discovered first by 70s America.

The radiance does not stop there it just shifts aesthetic. Tracks such as Marigold, Strange Vision (see below) and Lily will appeal to those who love their jangle chimed through a subdued, melancholy, Lachlan Denton type filter. It’s a sound that is simply too vibrant to be dark, but there is that undercurrent of beautiful disaffectation, that typifies so much musical brilliance.

Occasionally, Forester allows himself to break free from any sense of  pre-determined musical responsibilty and just do what he enjoys. As such we see him engage the sound of acts like Parker Longbough and Mo Troper as he rocks out from a lo-fi base in Another Day, as well as get ‘proggy-weird’ in On The Way Down and wonderfully Bolan-glam in the title track. Neither of these tracks are a genuine fit compared to the entirety of the release, but the album as a body of work certainly benefits from getting a feel for the genuine personality of the artist.

Forester will probably disappear in a sea of cool for the next few years, before he eventually returns for another solo sojourn in a few years time…if the quality is as good as this one, it will be worth the wait.

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