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The Garden of Joy and the Well of Loneliness (Female Fantasy Records)

Texas Platters

Lace Curtains

The 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.

****

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