San Francisco based artist Max Gardener recently released his latest EP Stirrings, which is the follow up response to Gardener's two previous albums Memory Lounge and Fear of Mirrors.
I had all intentions of first listening to this EP within the sanctity of my four bedroom walls as this was, as Max Gardener describes it, “bedroom theme music.” So why not take it in an ironically literal sense for the listening experience as well? I hit play and closed my eyes, feeling the walls around me wither away as I subconsciously sank into a west coast daydream.
The cohesive sound featured on Gardener’s Stirrings embraces thoroughly blended elements of indie rock with slacker vocals and synthy-pop. When combined, it creates a spellbinding dreamy potion.
The EP first opens with an upbeat shimmery track (“Where Lovers Dream”) that really emphasizes this pronounced balance between the various musical elements. This then fades into a meltier song (“Lessons of a Daydream”), which is one of several highlights off of this record. Staggered upbeat moments with woozy instrumentations and a muted funky intermission toward the end of the song creates a welcomed unpredictable pace, thus adding to the listening experience. In addition to this, the song is composed of introspective lyrics, which we see throughout several tracks on the record.
Immediately following this song is “This Day & Age”— another favorite. The subtle lethargic sound is a nice variation from some of the more upbeat moments on the EP. A particularly special moment is the lyrical interlude following a poetic steam of consciousness before slowly returning back into the catchy melody that accompanies the remainder of the song to its fading end.
“Stirrings” is hands down my favorite track and also the shortest song featured on the record. Perhaps it’s the hypnagogic pop vibe meets nostalgic beach goth feeling that this song evokes. Perhaps it’s the relatable lyrics depicting a restless night of sleep fawning over a love.
Perhaps it’s just because it’s a really great song.
The following two songs (“Midnight Moon” and “Free Spirits”) echo the addictive catchiness featured throughout the entirety of the record. “Free Spirits” ends with a particularly groovy guitar solo that then leads into the final song on Stirrings.
“Soon Enough” wraps up the EP neatly. Despite being the longest song on Stirrings, it certainly doesn’t feel like it. Airy melodies and the nostalgic aura makes this song fly by, while also serving as a memorable close to the record.
I have listened to Stirrings countless times now and have found this record to be extremely versatile. Whether you are carving some pavement on a casual longboarding session or just relaxing in your room, Max Gardener's bedroom theme music is just the musical companion to drift away into a daydream with.
Finally, as a little two for one review bonus, I’d regret not to mention another single released by Max Gardener a few days ago featuring Joe Merlo called “Only Til Morning.”
This has more of a melancholy feeling to it with brief uplifting moments. This is definitely deserves a listen as well.