“Bigger, better, angrier. The Garden hit hard with Kiss My Superbowl Ring.”
WORDS BY ROBBIE DADOMO-EDGINGTON
It’s a somewhat jarring experience listening to a record by The Garden that features prominent electric guitar, not to mention an Ariel Pink feature, but the expansion of styles and influences proves to be a successful experiment on Kiss My Super Bowl Ring.
From the title of the album, you might assume a more confident, aggressive tone, and you would be correct. For a band that started out making abstract yet simple sub 2 minute songs about gorillas and apples, The Garden have been increasing their focus on more tangible subjects, often socio-political, over their past few records. It is in these more pointed observations and excisions of gripes and grievances that a lot of the album’s aggression comes from.
Rather than wallow in the millennial ennui of Trump’s America, The Garden channel their anger into something constructive, couching astute observations and reflections within the hardest music they’ve ever put out. Take Sneaky Devil for example, without a doubt one of The Garden’s heaviest songs. For want of a better term, a banger. This is the kind of song that you are totally powerless against, as soon as it comes on, you feel it coursing through your system. Within this song, they also address the state of things, their perspective on the routine injustices of the US and wider world:
“I’m sick of old white men/sick of terms and conditions/sick of politicians/sick of carbon footprints/sick of tradition”
These lyrics are actually quite difficult to make out, they require a fair bit of focus and attention from the listener to decipher. This requirement from the listener ultimately makes the message all the more impactful, as these are issues that themselves require a lot of attention, but are often willfully ignored. By listening over and over to make them out, it’s impossible to ignore them, and thus the desired effect is achieved.
Of course, there is more to the album than anger and politics. The twins’ goofy sense of humour is still there with the odd sound effect every so often, like the ref’s whistle on , and plenty of humorous lines such as: “Congratulations/you made it to the end of the song” on album closer Please, fuck off.
Most importantly, the album is a fresh and exciting listen. The Garden have always been a band with a self-evident breadth of disparate influences, but with KMSBR, the blend of post-punk, jungle, hardcore, rap, DnB, alt rock (and a plethora of other genres I’m not qualified to recognise) is so assured and successful, resulting in an album that constantly surprises and excited the listener. Even within one song, the Shears twins hop, skip, and jump between styles. Lowrider Slug, for instance, is a song with an over-arching 90s alt rock flavour (less Nirvana, more PJ Harvey) that quickly jumps to the hardcore style with screamed vocals that colours much of the album, jumps back, Ariel Pink shows up, back and forth a bit more, then ends with a sequence that seems to channel the spirits of Rowland S. Howard and Tracy Pew, with rapid and angular guitar and prominent rolling bass, reminiscent of The Birthday Party’s Prayers on Fire.
However, to speculate or over-analyse potential influences on the record would be a disservice to The Garden and KMSBR. Ultimately, The Garden are a one of a kind band, and KMSBR is suitably a one of a kind album that defies expectation, captures the energy of the band’s live performances, addresses and confronts the state of the world around them and their own personal experiences, and most of all, proves itself to be an intensely infectious and relistenable album.
FOR FANS OF
Ariel Pink | The Birthday Party | Puzzle
LISTEN TO THE ALBUM HERE