By Delia Cruz Kelly
The Netherlands-based duo of Anne Van den Hoogen (vocals) and Dolf Smolenaers (keys) released their self-titled debut album “Rosemary & Garlic” on Jan. 12. The pair released “The Kingfisher” EP in 2015, and since then have come to be one of Holland’s most popular bands, so this new record came with much anticipation.
Like the album’s watercolor painting cover, the songs themselves sound like pastels on canvas. Smolenaers’ piano playing begins the album on its first track “Birds” and is paired with Van den Hoogen’s lofty voice. There’s a sense of joyful melancholy with each beat. R&G’s artistry continues throughout the album tying together images of nature in its seasons and an artist’s design with themes of love and beauty.
All right, there’s that setup. This description is accurate for the beginning of the album, but as each song follows the one before the charm fades at a quickening pace. At the halfway point of the album, the natural essence has quite frankly become annoying and the lyrics about the crying wind and gray skyline have lost all their appeal. Pastels are pretty, but in reality, they are just a watered down version of vibrancy, the same can be said of the cheesy, sweet nothings sung in the songs of Rosemary & Garlic.
In the latter half of the album, songs like “The Tempest” And “Fireflies” do their best to present a different sound with hints of electronic mixing and vintage rhythms, but since the rest of the album is so similar, these two just feel incredibly out of place. After a failed attempt to spice up the record (rosemary & garlic might not be the right seasonings), the last songs revert back to the same gentle formula of soft piano keys and lines like “I am a stargazer” that could be commonly found on the Pinterest quote boards of many a young teen.
In summary, Rosemary & Garlic create a 10 song album that honestly sounds like the color seafoam green. No offense to all the many brides who have chosen seafoam green for their bridesmaids’ dresses, but it’s plain.
Best Tracks on the Album: “Birds”, “I’m Here”, “Take This Hand”
Worst Tracks: “Shine”, “The Tempest”, “Fireflies”