The British music scene in the early ‘80s was a strange time. Synth-pop was becoming the dominant force thanks to artists such as The Human league and Gary Numan, while punk and new eave bands needed to adapt or die. This led to what is known is ‘post-punk’, which, like many genre tags, means nothing at all, but it’s become synonymous with a certain sound. It also saw the birth of new bands that combined the darker elements of punk with a bright synths to bolster their music.
One such band, who tend fly under the radar when the discussion about the greats of the era comes up, is Watford’s very own Sad Lovers & Giants. While hardly perfect, their 1982 album, Epic Garden Music, set the band on their path to underground greatness and post-punk lore.
It’s fitting that Epic Garden Music was released 1982, somewhere in between The Sound’s monumental album, From The Lions Mouth, and Chameleons stunning 1983 debut, Script of the Bridge. Musically, it fits somewhere between the two. It has the hypnotic rhythm section, driven by looming bass and muscular drumbeats, with subtle synths and bright lead guitar lines; all the components found within post-punk of the time.
From the stomping opener, Echoplay, Sad Lovers & Giants waste no time in letting the listener know they are no mere clone of Joy Division and The Cure. It is full on rock song, which sets the tone that both waxes and wanes from dark introspection on The Clocktower Lodge, to the unexpected use of saxophone that somehow manages to take you to another planet.
The problem with Epic Garden Music is that it isn’t quite as strong as either of the releases by their contemporaries. It just misses the mark on being a completely memorable album. That being said, the brooding album closer, Far From The Sea, shows the promise that Sad Lovers & Giants threatened through the whole record.
They would truly find their feet on the 1983 follow up, Feeding the Flame, but Epic Garden Music deserves it’s place in British music history. Their impact can still be felt today, with Soft Kill naming them as a key influence in their sound, and you can hear moments in many bands, even if it is indirect. Long live Sad Lovers & Giants.
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