Led by songwriter and Efterklang touring musician Anna Brønsted, Danish dream pop band Our Broken Garden returns after over a decade with Blind, a delicate flame of an album whose warmth and light reaches into the darkest corners.
In his review for BBC, Mark Beaumont called Our Broken Garden’s last outing Golden Sea (2010) music “for goths to have sex to”. If that was the case, then Blind is unreservedly for the heart and soul.
Our Broken Garden’s return is also an intimate account of facing personal crises and uncertainties. Throughout Blind Brønsted faces the heartache of infertility and breakdown of relationships, rediscovering a sense of self and inspiration through the overlooked beauty all about us. This is the sound of an artist whose world pivoted around them, forcing questions and reckonings. In the process of letting go of the past, and rekindling her connection to writing music through a community of friends, Brønsted unexpectedly became pregnant. Of Blind, and her lived experience that is rendered within its songs, she says:
“I carry both a profound sadness and a profound love with me. The past decade has been rough. But it compelled me to go deeper and I gained some valuable insights from that. It goes without saying that I am immensely grateful that I ended up having my little girl. Her arrival has made me more appreciative of the simple joys of life. Every day is new – not necessarily without challenges, but I feel I have found a sense of inner peace having come through a very difficult time in my life.”
Throughout Blind, Brønsted’s voice transforms the undeniable weight of all this into a feather-light Scandinavian soul; her lilting breaths as soft as a dove but with the gravity of a landslide. The palpable emotional authenticity and nuance with which Brønsted infuses every track is this time inspired more by classical songwriters. Yet, she blends these influences of the past, like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell, with more contemporary, avant-garde styles, such as FKA Twigs, crafting a sound that’s both nostalgic and fresh.
Opening tracks, ‘Intro’ and ‘Lost’, immediately cast a spell, wrapping us in a canopy of stillness and starlight. The eerie beauty of ‘Rain’ follows – a duet with John Grant that pays tribute to an almost-lost unborn child and an emblem of Brønsted’s wonder at her eventual motherhood. ‘Fallen’ introduces a psych-pop side, with deep horn flourishes and a catchy chorus reminiscent of Jane Weaver. This uplifting breeziness returns more poignantly later on ‘Sirens’, with its aching refrain. Elsewhere, Blind takes slower, gentler steps to breaking hearts, with ‘Words’, ‘Crown’ and ‘Storm’ the quietly beguiling duet with Luke Temple (Art Feynman) being particularly affecting.
There is a dreamlike aura to all of the songs here, so it’s no surprise to see Sleep Party People‘s Brian Batz credited on post-production. Batz adds a rich twilight sheen to the live recordings of Our Broken Garden’s core band of Brønsted, Søren Bigum (guitar), Moogie Johnson (bass), Adi Zukanovic (piano) and renowned drummer Seb Rochford at Sauna Studios in Copenhagen.
At its core, Blind uncovers the unexpected beauty of ordinary things and draws its strength from sorrow. It’s also an album that stands apart for its honesty among a conveyor belt of cookie-cutter music and bands with carefully curated public images. Blind is a reminder of what music can be and can do to comfort those who are looking for a genuine connection. It’s a pleasure to have Our Broken Garden back, with an album that speaks to the heart.