Geographer | Down and Out in the Garden of Earthly Delights | (Geographer Music)
3.5 / 5 Stars
The closest thing to a title track on Down and Out in the Garden of Earthly Delights, the new LP from Geographer — Mike Deni (vocals, multi-instrumentalist), Nathan Blaz (cello, electronics) and Brian Ostreicher (drums, vocals) — isn’t a “leading single.” Furthermore, it only references the word “Garden.” Yet the track — the second of 15 on the album — bears the associative responsibility well, as it projects the overall intention Deni held when making this album: writing songs that feel and sound good irrespective of their potential as individual charting hits.
“Garden’s” lyrics alone seem to speak to Deni’s push to separate from conventional industry goals (“I tried to turn you into a feeling / but now that feeling’s gone”). Musically, Geographer’s sonic eclecticism and compositional instincts here still provide a framework that guides listeners to an aurally satisfying place — in this case via melodic closure at the ends of individual lines. Meanwhile, “Love is Madness” achieves gratification through a catchy, melodically see-sawing, synth tone hook, with bold drum machine downbeats and a repetitious chorus that reinforces key lyrical phrases over chord progressions that are still in the process of resolving (“All you have to give / I’m coming for it now / I’m coming for it now”). Continue exploring and songs like “The Other Side” and “Lost in a Love Song” — made to stand out more using acoustic sounds over electronics — serve as reminders of Geographer’s appreciation of not just intricate arrangement but instrumental flexibility.
Down and Out’s creative strength is partially evident through its sheer volume. More significantly, however, it’s how Geographer writes music that evokes emotional delight without clinging to just one compositional approach or chasing expectations to do so. It’s encouragement for the band that there’s much less to fear from letting go of ingrained self-restriction.