Garden of Elks – Low Hearts

Low Hearts is a solid if unremarkable foray into 90s American fuzzed-out slacker rock, yet there is enough to go on here to suggest the best is yet to come

Album Review by Adam Turner-Heffer | 12 Dec 2017
  • Garden of Elks - Low Hearts
Album title: Low Hearts
Artist: Garden of Elks
Label: Self-released
Release date: 16 Nov

Inverness' Garden of Elks is the brainchild of Niall Strachan, who has expanded his palette and cast of characters since full-length debut A Distorted Sigh. On his follow-up, Strachan claims "it picks up on some themes from our debut and is part of a trilogy of albums dealing with the human condition, illness and isolation. It is the best thing we have ever done", which while it may seem bold is backed up by the limited run of 100 tapes.

Low Hearts is a solid if unremarkable foray into 90s American fuzzed-out, slacker rock akin to the likes of Sebadoh or Hüsker Dü. There are plenty of moments that fans of the sound will love, such as lead single CLAW with its extended instrumental section driving it towards higher planes, or poppy, hook-laden opener GLISTENER. Later on, TAKE ONE FOR THE TEAM is a particular highlight, sounding like Sonic Youth at their Goo-era finest. 

The problem is, some of this record feels undercooked and rushed, which keeps it from feeling distinct. The lo-fi production is surely meant for tape, but the warmth that analogue medium provides is largely missing from the overall sound. There is a dissonance on display on Low Hearts that doesn't feel entirely intentional and remains a distraction in the album's lesser moments. Still, there is enough to go on here to suggest the best is yet to come.