Floating in Dreams,
LOS JARDINES DE BRUSELAS
by Blanca Méndez
Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden is a tale in which the discovery of a landscape that's just as real as it is magical inspires a change in the story's young protagonist and in the pieced-together family she comes to be a part of. Floating in Dreams also occupies that fact-fantasy Bildungsroman territory. As the title suggests, the album sounds like a reverie. Even the album cover, which looks like blurry college brochure art, suggests a dreamy coming of age. Ezequiel de la Parra, the man behind Los Jardines de Bruselas, recorded the entire album on his computer and created a surreal kind of reality, like those dreams that you’d swear actually happened.
“Changing, Just Growing” evokes a final hometown summer with high school friends. You know that once September comes around, everything will change for good. You will all go your separate ways and, no matter how sincere your promise to stay friends forever, you somehow know that you'll all break that promise. This track expresses that fear of change, especially of growing up. There’s also a sense of resignation present in the vocals, knowing that the change is inevitable and giving in without a fight. The steady guitar acts as an anchor, a reassurance that growing up isn’t as bad as it sounds, which is comforting even if you don’t believe it. "Prisoner of the Past" brings up other concerns about growing up. This time, it’s worry about being left behind by those who are moving on, about being scared to leave behind what was and, consequently, becoming a prisoner to it.
With playful bird chirps in the intro and a keyboard melody that’s so light that it almost evaporates, “Fog in Australia” sounds exactly like what you would expect a foggy morning in Australia to sound like. It’s a shame that the keyboards at the end become a little too loud and brash for the song and kill the lazy-hazy vibes. The murmuring, echoing “Josefina” is the darkest track on the album and the only one in Spanish. The song’s almost passive confrontation and the calmingly repetitive melody that gradually and beautifully fades away is a perfect way to close the album
Floating in Dreams’ strengths lie in its cohesiveness, in sticking to a concept without getting too conceptual. This is sometimes problematic, when De La Parra skews a bit too literal, like in the rainfall on “Love Storm.” For the most part, though, the layers of sound and the way those sounds linger produce a lovely effect. There are also some issues with the vocals, whether it’s simply De La Parra’s style or perhaps his accent, he is often difficult to understand (in “Prisoner of the Past” when he says “like a prison” it sounds like “a Capri Sun”). But this is just a minor detractor to an overall pleasant album with some of the best and timeliest song progression that I’ve heard on an indie pop album in a while.