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The Top 25 Albums Of 2021 (So Far): Sly Withers - 'Gardens Top'

2 July 2021 | 8:20 am | Tiana Speter

'The Music' team on the releases you need to hear from 2021.

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Steadily asserting themselves as mainstays in the indie/punk realms, Sly Withers have spent half a decade shifting their down and dirty DIY stylings into more varnished territory, with the group’s most recent album Gardens sneaking into the world just before the second half of 2021 kicked off, armed with plenty of poise, polish, and just the right amount of grit.

Scooping up a triple j Feature Album upon its release, there’s a lot to like on the surface of Gardens, from its carefree melodics to more riotous punk moments recalling a plethora of fellow Aussie indie punks Violent Soho, Dune Rats and beyond; but with a significant stamp of unique identity bustling throughout. The Aussie twang’s alive and well on Gardens, as is the emo-punk sensibilities, but there’s so much more to devour as the band flesh out and cement their sharp sonic identity that welcomes and relishes its listeners as much as it provides an outlet for the shittier moments in life.

Fittingly named for the band’s favourite environment, with physical gardens providing a tangible space for the band to bond and evolve their sound and musical journey in, Gardens significantly showcases the band’s balanced production, as well as their enviable co-vocalist setup, as Jono Mata and Sam Blitvich rise and fall seamlessly to match and enhance the fluctuating thematics and moods throughout the album (seen most ardently on penultimate track Keys). 

From the irresistible opening corker Cracks to the nostalgic anthem Bougainvillea and melancholic Turns Out, there’s a glistening diversity underpinning the entire Gardens experience, with equal moments of punked-up glee and more restrained fare interchangeably spicing up proceedings, ultimately ensuring that you walk away with a Sly Withers spring in your step.

An exciting blend of introspection and euphoric indie punk, Sly Withers have slyly found their footing amongst a pandemic and the music industry crumbling around them on their latest release. Gardens is a majestic outing that pairs rock flavours with raw emotion; and, honestly, what more could you ask for in this brave new world?


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