EP Review – Cinnamon Sea by The Garbage & the Flowers (2022) (Fire Records)
For whatever reason Wellington’s (New Zealand), The Garbage & The Flowers, seem content to re-surface anywhere between every 6-10 years, with the next inevitable instalment of their beautifully world weary sound.
Once written off, by an absolute idiot, as the “50,000th band to sound like The Velvet Underground“, there most certainly is a similar sense of spurious distance in the production and understated indie chic, that acts an irresistable core to their sound. This ‘velvety underbelly’, is then augmented by whatever baggage of life they may have experienced in the previous ‘nearly decade’, since their last release.
On Cinnamon Sea, their first release with Fire Records, the augmentation is typically varied. Initially, the opening Eye Know Who You Are, presents the ‘made for (lo-fi) indie vocals’ of Helen Johnstone as hushed, with an emotionality that would border on Mazzy Starr introspection if it was not for her slightly belligerent, skewed, left field vocals. It’s just a bit too forcefull for Mazzy style demure, but every bit as intropsective.
It is when this sense of hushed is replaced by a more pronounced production on these vocals, that the best of EP is heard. Here,the beautifully dulcet, Triple J informed jangled riffs of the title track and On The Radio, provide a wonderful conflict between the ‘pretty’ and the opining melancholic weirdness of the Johnstone vocals. It is so perfectly The Velvet Underground obtuse, whilst retaining their own omnipotent indie allure.
The last notable aesthetic of this superb release is heard in the stand out track, Red Star. Here the droning male vocals, incessant rhythms and ramshackle lo-fi, remind me of Tullycraft’s driven twee, juxtaposed against the demi anti-folk aggression of Hamell on Trial. It is the song you will most remember about the album, due to it’s intense sense of cool, even if it is not the most notable.
I am prepared to wait another 6-10 years for their next release… because it is always superb!