There can occasionally be a taint of condescension in Western appreciation of Asian pop artists, especially when the artists in question are female. (Not all supposed fans of Shonen Knife were sincere in their appreciation, and a surprising number seemed unaware of how much of the band's songwriting and image was a deliberate stylistic choice.) However, for all of the unapologetic cuteness in Bear-Garden's music, this twee pop act from Bangkok, Thailand, led by singer/songwriter Somsiri Sangkaew, has no sense of amateurishness or "so wrong it's right" strangeness in its expertly deployed indie pop. Some points of comparison include Architecture in Helsinki, Sufjan Stevens, the Envelopes, the Go! Team, and the Flaming Lips, all of whom share Sangkaew's sonic playfulness and disinclination toward easy stylistic pigeonholing. Sangkaew's first major musical experience was as bassist in the all-female trio Subnai, who had a string of pop hits in Thailand in the late '90s. Following that band's breakup, Sangkaew started Bear-Garden (her private phrase for a messy, lived-in room) as a solo project with 2001's I'm a Gardener, followed by 2003's Mercy Killing, 2004's Blue Traveler, and 2005's Love Is Sweet Suicide. ~ Stewart MasonPortions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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