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Habibi - "Cardamom Garden" | Album Review


by Jorge Ivan Velez (@funnylinkedin)

The presence of borders doesn’t mean explicit limitation. When bumps are hit crossing cultural boundaries because of limited language, music serves as a vehicle for universally translating feeling. Cardamom Garden, the latest release by Brooklyn-based Habibi, translates celebration, liveliness and the utter joy of being via Middle Eastern-influenced psychedelic rock blended with twee pop; creating a rich product, something poignant and uplifting in its celebratory blend.

The cardamom’s incredibly distinct flavor is akin to the band’s sound, where Habibi make four distinct tracks into one consistent unique offering. Opener “Khodaya” immediately introduces dichotomy: the dissonant interactions of a guitar and bass create harmony like a standout Girlpool track. They build with the tension of a hardcore band as they steadily build their pace, lead singer Rahill Jamalifard’s tambourine cutting viciously through the song’s mix. It’s afterwards in direct counterpoint, the band offers their most infectious with “Gypsy Love,” failing to miss a beat in their bouncy twee pop sensibility.

The use of code switching on “Nedayeh Bahar” is one of the most rewarding moments on the record. The subtle interplay of Farsi and English through the record reveals the beauty of pronunciation in how language transgresses boundaries. This is best driven home on “Green Fuz,” where Habibi make swing, pop and fun all in a foreign tongue, yet even a non-speaker will find the same emotive resonance. Habibi offer a refined take on indie pop, showcasing that classic formulas for fun still have so much more to offer when we integrate the language which reveals the most intimate parts of ourselves.