Q - 10/01, p.1473 stars out of 5
- "...Quickly abandoning the futurist car-wreck...THE GARDEN's only semi-realised European yearnings once again chimed with the times..."
Record Collector (magazine) - p.915 stars out of 5
-- "Every track is a meeting of immaculate rock and electronic beauty. 'Europe After The Rain' dazzles..."
THE GARDEN... PLUS contains the original 1981 release THE GARDEN plus five bonus tracks.
John Foxx's second solo effort is a lovely slice of underrated, early-'80s pop/rock with a decidedly electronic touch. Starting with an absolutely killer track -- the steady Krautrock-rhythm pulse and shimmer of "Europe After the Rain," Foxx's elegantly passionate vocal is the icing on the cake -- The Garden finds Foxx working with a core band on a series of similarly striking tunes. While there's a slight misfire here and there -- "When I Was a Man and You Were a Woman" gets its promising lyric and proto-industrial rhythm breaks undercut by a strident, of-its-time synth flourish on the choruses -- The Garden is polished, epic post-punk of the finest variety. At its hardest rocking, it easily calls up the contemporary work of bands like U2, Simple Minds, and Echo & the Bunnymen in its driving, charging sweep. Foxx himself plays a fine guitar, but Robin Simon gets the lead guitar credits throughout the album and turns out to be an under-appreciated figure of that era, relying on quick, sudden bursts of chords and feedback to carry his work. "Systems of Romance," borrowing its title from the last Foxx-led Ultravox album and possessing a thrilling instrumental coda, and the dramatic charge of "Walk Away" make for two of the strongest standouts, as does the title track, concluding the album with a striking combination of mysterious, haunting moods and keyboard parts. Foxx's Bowie fixation isn't lessened any here lyrically or vocally, but he's certainly got his own take on it now. (His own vocal approach would crop up in future bands' work.) In a coincidental but sly touch, Foxx beat out his former bandmates when it came to religious themes in songs -- a year before the Midge Ure-fronted group released "Hymn" as a single, Foxx adapted the "Pater Noster" chant from Catholic services into a song, and quite successfully at that. ~ Ned Raggett