Category: Press

“Who told you to come back?/ Who said you’re never good enough?/ Who told you to give up on the garden?” sings Louisa
Solomon, lead vocalist of Brooklyn’s Shondes, on the opening track of their new album. Maybe the reference is Biblical. Maybe it’s about Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden(that was my first thought), or the childhood games that Solomon’s now too old to play. Or maybe it’s a garden that’s purely metaphorical, a wistful and unchained creative place, and this is her way of embracing it—of writing songs that exist, first and most prominently, as songs.The tracks on The Garden are fierce without being obnoxiously loud, wise without being smarmy. The melody flits inside the rhythm and makes you pump your fist in the air—it sounds like punk, but in spirit, it’s more like an acousticguitar song all your friends would sing together. When Shondes started out, they were Sleater-Kinney with a violin, a queer-trans-Jewish band who wrote songs that straddled relationships and political statements (their name, of course, is the Yiddish word for “disgrace”). There’s a tongue-in-cheekness to the song “Dr. Manhattan” that sets it apart from the earnest pop chords, and a bleakness to “Running in the Streets” that turns into a jubilant girl-group song. The violin drops in at the perfect point—and, the moment it appears, casts a simple magic that extends to several other songs on The Garden, lifting “Running” into both an anthem and a Perfect Pop Song. And there’s the album’s opening title track. There’s a moment in it where Solomon stops singing from the ego—not the bad ego, but the “personal I” they talked about in school, your life, your gender, your cis/trans status—and starts singing about the moment of running away, of breaking free, of simply being human. That might be what Shondes wanted to create. Or maybe they just wanted to make a seriously good straight-ahead rock record. They succeed on both counts.”