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Zero 7 - The Garden

Released on Atlantic/Wea, 6/6/06

Zero 7 is known for producing slick, chillout-compilation-ready discs. A little loungey, a little sleepy, well-produced and tracky, and a bit…well, predicatable. In this effort, they've gone beyond cranking out the Café Del Mar discs and brought what I certainly didn't expect -- a truly musical CD.

The tunes are expansive and warm, with thoughtful chord progressions and an odd bent that reminds me of a post-folk, pre-disco 70s album…is folk-tronic a genre yet? Zero 7 liberally borrows lyrical phrasing from fellow Garden State soundtrack alums The Shins, and harmonies from Brian Wilson, beats from Beta Band and it's in no way a bad thing.

Returning Zero 7 vocalist Sia Furler is joined by singer/songwriter Jose Gonzalez, who re-rubs a track of his, "Crosses" from his solo album Veneer. Must-have tracks are the washy beats and strumming guitars of opening track "Futures", which is the first single from the album. "This Fine Social Scene" and the waltz-y closer "Waiting to Die", which are actually much more upbeat than the titles would lead you to believe, and other favorites of mine. Give it a week or so to grow on you. I'd recommend getting it on vinyl just to fully immerse you in the 70s psychedelic folk-pop groove.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars