One for the Team – Build a Garden [EP]
Release Date: March 31, 2009 (digital) | April 14, 2009 (physical)
Record Label: Afternoon Records
The weather here in Cincinnati can do some pretty crazy things, as particularly seen over the past few days. Now, as I tend to pick my musical selections in accordance with what is going on outside my window, this can lead to some rather wild swings amongst what resides in my car CD changer. These last two days have been a bit different though. Yesterday, it was 75 degrees and sunny during the day, which made it entirely appropriate to spin One for the Team’s Build It Up on my way to the grocery store. With the windows down, and sunglasses on, the buzzy, breezy pop of these Minnesota natives was right at home in that idyllic clime. Alas, today brings 39 degree temps and a nonstop curtain of rain. Might seem like cause for a radical musical adjustment, but One for the Team is there for me again, this time with their new EP, Build a Garden.
Containing four new songs, and four new recordings of tunes from Build It Up, Build a Garden is no slouch in terms of content. Eight tracks is a healthy amount for an EP, sure, and especially so since the versions of old songs are re-imagined enough to be considered almost entirely new.
The first dreamy guitar notes of “Questions and Panthers” and the remainder of the EP, make it quite evident that Build a Garden assumes a different mood and personality than that of its predecessor. From the spacey “ooooh’s” of the lead track to the wistful harmonies of “Yard,” and the echo-friendly “Build a Garden” to the lo-fi hypnosis of “Ha Ha,” Build a Garden asserts itself as the more introspective and perhaps even more thoughtful complement to its LP sibling. Be that as it may, One for the Team have certainly not lost their penchant for creating memorable pop numbers. The catchier aspects that make the band so endearing are certainly still in place, but are implemented with more restraint, and the end result works quite well. Some of the new songs are the work’s best – namely the darling “Best Supporting Actress” and the pensive title track. And while it tends to be a bit of a copout for artists to re-record songs to beef up a previously slim collections, Ian Anderson and crew are quite justified for doing so here, as the new/old tracks sound refreshed to fit the target aura, but still retain the charm of their original recordings.
Overall, it is easy to recommend Build a Garden for purchase to any music fan, even if they are not previously familiar with the group. Newcomers might even find this EP a better place to start, as the cotton candy pop sheen of the group’s last LP is subdued in a manner that could certainly bring in new ears. Build a Garden is still undeniably an indie pop record at heart, and an excellent one at that, but it is far more multi-faceted than its precursor. Offering reflections on a more somber tone, yet maintaining an optimism about both music’s and life’s sunnier aspects, One for the Team have released an EP that is both well-executed and perfectly timed.