The Garden of Joy and the Well of Loneliness (Female Fantasy Records)
Reviewed by Austin Powell, Fri., Sept. 21, 2012
Lace CurtainsThe Garden of Joy and the Well of Loneliness (Female Fantasy Records)
Slop-pop romantics Harlem dropped off the radar after what should have been the local trio's national breakout on Matador Records, 2010's Hippies. Perpetually disheveled co-founder Michael Coomer appears to have sobered up for his proper solo debut, The Garden of Joy and the Well of Loneliness, reaching deep on a surprisingly tender album of minimalist Motown R&B and soft-focus pop, backed in part by Bloc Party's Matt Tong. Coomer's always possessed a strong narrative streak (see "South of France"), but he trades smirking tales of "Psychedelic Tits" for something far more vulnerable and apologetic – or so it seems. Even the blunt domestic strife in the stunning "Bedroom Honesty" packs a veiled meaning, apparently inspired by a Craigslist casual encounter. While he may be in character, such moments – and the weirdness in between them – are no less convincing for it. The Garden ... captures that 5am realization that the party's over. The thrill is gone.