Death in the Garden, Blood on the Flowers
(Eenie Meenie Records)
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Despite the prolix title, Irving’s Death in the Garden, Blood on the Flowers sports all of the punchy energy of a debut record, though it’s actually the band’s second LP. Additions to the lineup (once a trio, Irving’s now a quintet) may account for the group’s new sound, but something’s got to be said for solid studio work. Recording magician Phil Ek (Built to Spill, the Shins) produced and engineered a handful of these 13 tracks, while Earlimart’s Aaron Espinoza and Grandaddy’s Jim Fairchild were behind the boards on a few of the others. The result is an album just as catchy as Irving’s 2002 debut but that’s far more cohesive. While the 60s rock comparisons still stand, this album finds Irving sounding a bit like Beulah, a bit like Depeche Mode, and even a bit like the Dandy Warhols. Espinoza’s influence is obvious and welcome on the title track, while there are Odelay-era overtones of Beck on ‘Hard to Breathe’. All in all, Death in the Garden synthesizes some great pop sounds without falling into parody.