Kelley Polar, with his debut, LOVE SONGS OF THE HANGING GARDENS, answers the question of what would happen if you combined synth-pop with a string quartet. And the answer is: a mellow time. From the smooth romance of "Cosmological Constancy" to the Detroit-flavored 80s electro of "Here In The Night," there's a hushed undercurrent to carry on with the rhythms. The vocal harmonizing on the chorus of "My Beauty In The Moon" is quite nice and a contrast to the minor key melody, whereas the deeper throbs of "Vocalise (From Here To Polarity)" seem to come out of left field, despite its Moroder breakdown. But the disco trappings of "Ashamed Of Myself" shine much stronger, as is the ready-to-dance "The Rooms In My House Have Many Parties." The nighttime groove of "Black Hole" emits as much energy as it sucks in, which is quite an apt description for the album itself.
Although Environ is mainly known for the brilliantly timeless releases by Metro Area, its talents don't stop there. Kelley Polar looks to expand the Environ gamut both up and beyond the digital disco sound and in the pop song realm. Across these ten tracks, Polar surveys modern club music trends, with specific focus on Environ's own disco sound, and crafts brilliant pop songs around these sounds. At its best, this comes out in the urban-tinged "Here In The Night", the shuffling "My Beauty In The Moon", and the effortlessly funky "Black Hole".
However, for all of the greatness of its parts, there is something about the sum of "Love Songs Of The Hanging Gardens" that doesn't quite gel. This is both to do with the surveying of styles and to do with what seems to be a bad track order. It seems that with the tracklisting the way it is, "Matter Into Energy" (the only track here that really signifies the approach Polar would take on his second album) is the intended highlight of the set. But instead, "Black Hole", which maybe should have been just another album track, turns out to be the real highlight. However, it is really at "Vocalise (From Here To Polarity)" where things go awry, as it severely interrupts the flow of the album.
All in all, this album is quite good, but it was certainly no indicator of the greatness Polar would go on to achieve on his second album.
Rock solid debut LP for Kelley Polar and one of the best releases on Environ in recent memory.
Compared to some of his releases as the Kelley Polar Quartet, he shows a stronger italo influence on this release.
Here, Kelley breaks out the insanely catchy disco grooves with his wonderful viola playing and vocals.
Lets hope this isn't the last we see of him!