Open the curtains, stretch out on the lawn, slip on some sandals — just because it's hot out, that doesn't mean you don't need Vitamin D. For its part, Santa Barbara's Gardens and Villa has been administering steady doses for a few months now, and it's just released a suitably sunny self-titled debut.
Gardens and Villa folds a few clear-cut influences ('90s Britpop, '80s synth-pop) into a neat package. The sparse but tight production, relying mostly on fat synthesizers and drum machines with a few twists here and there, dispenses a lighthearted Britpop vibe while also recalling obscure early-'80s R&B. "Black Hills," though, is one of the band's most contemplative cuts, with the cry "sunlight" dominating the mood like a mantra. Despite resting on electronic beat beds, the band's outdoorsy appreciation could only have been bred on the beaches of Santa Barbara. Wide-eyed and fresh-faced, Gardens and Villa takes on the natural world with relish.