Release Date: Feb 12, 2016
Record label: Kanine Records
After a debut album that found the young London trio Flowers finding their noise pop feet, their second album, Everybody's Dying to Meet You, shows some newfound confidence along the way to becoming a marked improvement. With textbook noise pop guitar attacks balanced by peaceful interludes that allow Rachel Kenedy's ethereal vocals to float unencumbered by gravity, the basic template the band employs remains the same. This time out, though, the guitars have more crunch and the vocals are even more weightless, plus the songs are a little snappier.
For reasons that we all understand, however hesitant we may be to point them out, it’s always been tougher to sell a woman with an unconventional voice than a man. For every Björk there are a dozen Tom Waitses, for every Kate Bush there’s an army of Morrisseys. Flowers’ vocalist Rachel Kenedy’s voice is the most obvious feature of their sound, and it’s by no means conventional.
It’s hard to sound like you’re an indie band from 2016 – even if you actually are one. London trio Flowers certainly don’t make eluding the spectre of bygone guitar parts look easy. Their second album – the follow-up to 2013’s Do What You Want To, It’s What You Should Do – is a record that seems excessively retrogressive. That’s not just a result of its musical components – frontwoman Rachel Kennedy’s high, clear, almost choral register, which calls to mind Kirsty MacColl and the Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Fraser; the twee, jangly and sometimes faintly grungy guitars – but the overall sense of stable, controlled comfort that together they create.
Precocious East London trio Flowers debuted with 2013’s Do What You Want To, It’s What You Should Do, a subtle, understated outing produced by Suede’s Bernard Butler that reflected their love of pioneering indie minimalists Young Marble Giants. Helmed by ex-Primal Scream and My Bloody Valentine producer Brian O’Shaughnessy, the band’s second release, Everybody’s Dying To Meet You is a shade more confident and fully-realised. The band’s essential ingredients – Rachael Kennedy’s soaring, Elizabeth Fraser-esque vocals, Sam Ayres’ dense, FX-layered guitars and drummer Jordan Hockley’s insistent, Mo Tucker-ish pounding – are still integral to the mix, but this time round the melodies have been allowed to breathe and the hooks sharpened to snag the wider populace.
It takes just under 30 seconds for Flowers’ second album Everybody’s Dying to Meet You to vault its promising but wan predecessor (2014’s Do What You Want To, It’s What You Should Do). That’s the moment the chiming, bright-as-a-button guitars of opener Pull My Arm get abruptly roughed up by a thick wedge of distortion, instilling the London trio’s sound with a forcefulness and grit that was conspicuously missing last time round. Set against this bedrock of fuzz and feedback, singer Rachel Kenedy’s light, lofty vocals sparkle all the more clearly – a contrast that proves particularly striking on tracks like How Do You Do’s noisy dreampop and slow-burn closer Bathroom Sink.
When Molly Rankin of Canadian band Alvvays opened her cherubic gullet in 2014, entreated Archie to take her briskly up the aisle and wafted gently to the top of the US college charts like dandelion spores floating over a swamp of matted beards, she opened the window to a fresh gust of fragile, romantic indie pop smelling of C86, Sarah Records, chunky knitwear, hair slides and The Cardigans. It’s a heady blast of fresh pop air to some, the stench of a crumbling sewage works to others, but among the first on the breeze come London’s Flowers, musical kin to Allo Darlin’, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and the pop end of nu gaze. Their Bernard Butler-produced 2013 debut ‘Do What You Want To, It’s What You Should Do’, not having Emeli Sandé on it, drifted under the radar, but now is undoubtedly their time to bloom.