As far as sound, Deep State‘s Thought Garden is within the realms of Elephant Six and/or Kindercore in comparison to Athens’ artistic line-up, and they obviously take on the form of the mid 1990’s to mid 2000’s. It is easy to hear that this album was born and recorded in Athens, following the footsteps laid by the local culture’s history of producing high quality low fidelity tunes. That area also seems to breed individuals who can effortlessly blurt out enticing melodies that are whimsical and upbeat, and Thought Garden has tapped into that pipeline as well.
The album opens with a noisy sound collage, not very surprising, titled “Guardin’.” The sound collage sounds like a guitar being tuned, strummed through different effects, all while a printer (?) is trying to push something out. That is followed with “No Idea Pt II.” – a burst of energetic pop-punk that is basted in noise and squeezed out of a slightly blown out speaker. This follows suit for the next few tracks and seems as if it is going to stay uniform to that Japanther-style noise-pop with a hint of Athens. That sound and feel is slightly broken with “Death Waltz” and “Heavy Lunch.” They utter a sunny side of dreamy and whiny pop-punk (e.g. early Wavves), but instead of whining they incorporate their jangle-pop melodies.
After “Heavy Lunch,” the album plateaus, and returns to its uniform of the first several tracks. The last song, “Urn,” saves the album. Up to this point, they only played what sounded like different variations of the same two or three songs, but they show some versatility with “Urn.” It is slower, opening with clean and discordant guitars that slide the song into a softer psychedelic track. The song has such a difference in sound and vibe compared to the rest of the album that without the singer’s voice for reference it could be a different band. The track has a few breaks in it that are energetic sonic calamities, giving it an In Utero-like vibe to it.
Thought Garden is lo-fi noise rock that borders on the flamboyant side of pop-punk musically, but the production and colloquial sonic influences are its saving grace. Deep State has the talent and the energy to produce quality melody-driven noise pop, but this album lacks intervals of variety causing it to be monotonous in spurts, only to be broken once or twice. Besides that, the album is worth listening to for those in search of upbeat low-fidelity music.