Zero 7 The Garden

On Zero 7’s third release, the duo of Sam Hardaker and Henry Binns settle further into their signature folk-flavoured, electronic lounge pop, which is best described as a marriage between Air and Morcheeba. An electro acoustic gem, The Garden unfurls as an artfully layered indie pop collage, which rides a sun-soaked and soulful vibe. All but two tracks have lyrics and vocalist Sia rejoins the duo, her honey smooth voice exquisitely floating on The Garden’s effortless rhythms and ambient sheen. José González adds his clear and sweetly melancholic voice, which perfectly compliments Sia’s easy polish, and together they provide the silver thread connecting the album’s folksy charm and electro/lounge pop sensibilities. While the opening track "The Futures” drifts right out of a Simon and Garfunkel album, a sound revisited in the slightly bleak but oh too brief guitar and vocals number "Left Behind,” the rest of the disc’s tracks swim smoothly within the mellow grooves and jazzy vibes. "The Pageant of Bizarre” uses tranquil beats and dreamy vocals that fade into a rich a cappella and resonant choruses. Snappy rhythms ride jazzy undercurrents and meandering synths in "You’re My Flame,” and soulful harmonies coast on languid beats laced with distant rock guitar in "This Fine Social Scene.” At the end of the day, settling into an artful fusion of pop, rock and trip-hop, The Garden’s overall sound achieves such a folk-filled warmth that one almost forgets they are listening to some expertly polished electronica. (Atlantic)