Under Review

Gal Gracen


(JAZ Records); 06/09/2019

Jordan Naterer

Gal Gracen’s FANTASY GARDENS utilizes catchy Casio keyboards and delightful drum machines to produce music that is easy on the ears, but heavy on the heart. Although Patrick Geraghty, the individual behind the Gal Gracen moniker, considers the title quite generic, “Fantasy Gardens” is the name of a ‘90s Richmond amusement park that is currently being renovated into a condo complex. There is something poetic about naming an album after something that once existed within this reality, but can only be effectively re-lived through an individual’s memories and dreams.

The LP opens up with the blissful track “Arcadia,” which immediately transports you to a paradise of natural harmony with peaceful percussion and soothing synth leads. One of the catchiest melodies on the EP is found in this opening of the chorus: “Closer than the moon and night, Arcadia is twice as lonely / Oh it’s a beautiful life.” Geraghty conveys the idea of how some paradises can be not as special as we are led to believe, and that the speaker is living in the present, enjoying whatever they currently have available. 

My next highlight track is the eight-minute “She’s the Queen,” which I would describe as a modern surf-rock synth jam session with a killer bass-line and impressive catalogue of fun keyboard samples. “Today or Tomorrow” is one track I would definitely recommend as it showcases Geraghty’s higher vocal range along with additional catchy melodies and beautiful guitar tones. My last standout track would be “Winds of Solace, Pillars of Sand,” which uses soft keyboard arpeggios and a warm saxophone tone to establish a peaceful setting for the second half of the LP.

Although Fantasy Gardens may no longer be visitable at the intersection of No. 5 Road and Steveston Highway, Gal Gracen’s 2019 release creates an accessible portal into a realm where the listener may reliably confront themes of paradise, euphoria, and bliss.