Written and recorded in the midst of a dizzying stretch in which nearly everything about the way the band lived and worked was turned on its head, Motel Radio’s “The Garden” is indeed a work of relentless hope. The songs are profoundly vulnerable here, and the performances are warm and breezy, calling to mind everything from Andy Shauf and Cass McCombs to Beck and Tame Impala with an easygoing demeanor that belies the deep emotional work underpinning them. Motel Radio generated early buzz in their adopted hometown of New Orleans on the strength of their 2015 debut EP, Days & Nights, which helped land them dates with the likes of Kurt Vile and Drive-By Truckers in addition to festival slots at Firefly, Jazz Fest, and more. The band followed it up with the similarly well-received Desert Surf Films in 2016 and their first full-length, Siesta Del Sol, in 2019, touring the country on a seemingly endless loop as they built up their devoted following one night at a time. Since then, the band had set a goal of becoming more self-sufficient and learning to record on their own, and when it came time to cut The Garden, they dove in headfirst, cutting half the collection in an old fishing camp south of New Orleans with the help of engineer Ross Farbe (Video Age, Esther Rose) and the other half fully remotely while engineering themselves. “There was this real creative freedom that came with working remotely and learning how to run the sessions on our own,” explains co-lead singer Ian Wellman. “Synths, samples, beats, plug-ins; suddenly these whole new worlds of sound were at our fingertips and the possibilities were limitless.” That creative liberation is easy to hear on The Garden, which opens with the mesmerizing “Wise.” Like much of the album, it’s a gentle meditation on finding joy and fulfillment, on spreading love and positivity. “I’ve gotta open my eyes,” co-lead singer Winston Triolo sings over dreamy guitars and a hypnotic digital drum loop. “I only get one life, well now how can I live it wise?” The airy “Outta Sight” celebrates the simple pleasures of letting go and being present, while the washed-out “Sweet Daze” revels in the warmth of human connection, and propulsive “Happiness Pie” looks for ways to share the comfort and contentment that comes with self-acceptance. On The Garden, they’ve realized there’s no sweeter garden than the one you grow yourself.