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British Columbia dreamer Crystal Dorval’s latest and lushest kaleidoscope-pop long-player took root four years ago as a hazy notion of “new age shoegaze bossa nova.” Across reflective summers and long winter nights in a thin-walled shack on a remote rural horse farm the vision evolved, eventually centering on a mythical muse, Paradise Gardens, somewhere between utopian sanctuary and decaying tropical apartment complex. Though the songs began as attempts to “transcend darkness,” over time they absorbed shadows and sorrows of their own, becoming lessons in coexistence: “learning to be with it all.” The album evokes overlapping vignettes within this layered fantasia: fading flowers along a balcony, distant birds above the surf, light glittering off a courtyard pond, sunset skylines darkening to lavender night. It’s a place of healing but also heaviness, fragile peace contoured with pains of the past.
White Poppy’s music has always been mirage-like but here her voice, guitar, keys, and soft-focus siren designs feel uniquely potent and distilled, weathered and wizened by years and yearning, the weight of memories of memories. These are melodies of psychic questing and self-discovery, at the edge of illusion and insight, glimpses of heaven half-remembered and half-imagined: “Paradise is a place within.”