Irving

Record review

SXSW Records

Irving

Death in the Garden, Blood on the Flowers (Eenie Meenie)

Like the best of their Paisley Underground forebears two decades ago, L.A. psych-pop quintet Irving finds a harmonious balance between the past and present on their second LP. The band's fealty to both original Sixties psychedelia and Eighties neo-psychedelia as epitomized by the Church and the Three O'Clock are never in doubt, but Irving's usage of the forms is always in deference to the pop aspirations at hand. Every little sonic sleight of hand finds its place here. As the title implies, the mood of Death in the Garden is melancholy with downdrafts of outright desolation. "The Gentle Preservation of Children's Minds" sounds like innocuous New Wave-flavored surf-pop until you notice a lyric like, "Remember when they used to make us wake up and spray all the blood from the flowers." Irving's dour quotient approaches Joy Division proportions on "Jen, Nothing Matters to Me," in which the protagonist bids farewell to a lover because he cannot love. The sentiment would sound absolutely bathetic if not for the breezy melody underlying it. "Situation" also describes dysfunctional relationship habits, but the soulful, steady backbeat ameliorates the chafe of recognition. We should all be so lucky as to get this much mileage out of emotional unavailability. (Wednesday, March 15, 12mid @ the Velvet Spade Patio)

***

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