Review Summary: I'd travel to the moon & back just to get hold of a copy.
In a world over-saturated with musicians and artists it can be difficult separating the men from the boys, women from the girls. Occasionally you can find the distinction though; realise the true artists from the money-makers. People who have always set out to make a name for themselves, not for money or fame, but for something as noble and cliché as the art itself. It’s this type of person who brings a true emphasis and importance to the artform. However, you won’t find a genre of music as blurred and taxing in trying to see the wood for the trees than in the pop realm; a genre of music so reliant on the business model of cashing in it’s like looking through a “Where’s Walley?” picture book in trying to do it. George Michael was undoubtedly one of them, and over time you’ll come to see who the pioneers are/were. Without flinching, I can tell you Darren Hayes is one of them. Like George, Darren has gone through the same career beats; dropping out of the hysterical success of Wham! or Savage Garden was an admirable (or foolish sentiment for some) move to seek other itches yet to be scratched. These two men went on to solo careers spanning seminally ground-breaking works, fuelled with eclectic diversity and uncharted ideas for the field they were in. Darren Hayes is a rare artist though: his solo career is intimidating to say the least, managing to show his worth just one album into it, but when you match that with the project that made him a household name, it puts him up there with a reserved few.
Savage Garden was a project that shined brightly in such a short space of time, and offered some of the finest pop albums for the 20th Century. Savage Garden’s sophomore album, Affirmation
, was a weaker offering to that of its debut, and quickly led to the demise of the band, but let’s put this into perspective: it was fighting unbeatable circumstances, and yet, compared to most pop albums, still made for a valiant effort given the situation. The situation? How could anyone hope to top a perfect album? Indeed, it’s a word I very seldom use, but it’s true. Savage Garden
is a perfect pop-rock album in every aspect. A record that could pull out any one song and sell it as a single. This 11-track legend is filled to the brim with first-class song-writing, amazing vocal work and melodies – all told in a condensed, cut the BS way. The excellently impassioned guitar licks on the verses of “To the Moon & Back,” the spinetingling solo or Darren’s infectiously melancholic vocal performance sets the tone for the album in an unparalleled way. It is the right choice of single, but if you thought this was the best the album has to offer, you’re wrong. Every track here offers sublime musicianship, top-tier hooks and a heartfelt performance from Darren on every song. From “Truly Madly Deeply” and “Universe,” for their butter-smooth and soulful aesthetics, to the energetically charged epics of “Carry on Dancing” and “Break Me Shake Me,” Savage Garden
doesn’t leave an inch to dip in quality. The various solos on here stand to elevate the tracks in ways few musicians could ever hope to achieve; chord progressions that set new standards for pop music in 1997; and a LP chockful of catchy, booty shaking grooves.
I could well be sounding hyperbolic at this point, but Savage Garden
is 21 years old this year and it hasn’t aged a goddamn day. It set a new standard for pop songs, and I still feel its influence runs extensively in the contemporary world. Hayes obviously showed he had more to offer music than just Savage Garden when he left to do his own thing, but few bands leave this kind of a mark on their first attempt, and even fewer prove their worth thereafter. Savage Garden
is a landmark album and fans of pop/pop-rock need to experience it, and all it has to offer.
EDITIONS: D̶I̶G̶I̶T̶A̶L̶//CD//2̶0̶1̶5̶ ̶R̶E̶I̶S̶S̶U̶E̶ ̶2̶-̶C̶D̶
PACKAGING: Standard jewel case.
SPECIAL EDTION: There’s a Japanese version containing the bonus track "Mine"; an Asian Tour bonus disc, containing remixes and b-sides; and in 2015 the release of a 2-disc “expanded edition” hit shelves.