Release Date: May 27, 2016
Record label: ATP
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Neo-Psychedelia
London-based sextet JC Flowers' debut album, Driving Excitement and the Pleasure of Ownership, is a low-key gem that combines the jangle of C-86 and beyond indie pop with the rich vocal harmonies of baroque pop bands of the late '60s, while adding some nice moments of art rock weirdness along the way. They also reclaim "China Girl" from David Bowie and turn it into a sweet almost-lullaby that Iggy would be hard-pressed to recognize as a song he wrote. Keeping their arrangements simple but adding chiming keyboards and dolloping reverb over everything, the songs are easy to love on first spin but have a nice way of sinking in more deeply with each play.
Hailing from the same London scene as the likes of Charles Howl, Ultimate Painting, Toy and The Proper Ornaments while featuring a member of Novella in their ranks, it's no surprise to learn JC Flowers take much of their inspiration from the past. Which of course, is never a bad thing. It's how those influences are channeled that really matters, and when they strike gold Driving Excitement And The Pleasure Of Ownership delivers impeccable results.
On the debut album from London dwelling quartet JC Flowers, jangly lullabies sit side by side with drones and warped ambient instrumentals. Each bitesize break forms part of a sequence called Jazz Hole, which teases out the weirder undercurrents of the rest of the record (bits played backwards, abrupt endings) and flirts with the idea of going full throttle in that direction. Without them, Driving Excitement And The Pleasure Of Ownership would be a softly-delivered onslaught of charm – pleasant and quite brilliant in places, but also monotonous.
Londoners JC Flowers are certainly full of ideas. Baudrillard is loftily cited on the press release, suggesting a knowing angle to their classicist psych-pop, and they’re skilled alchemists when it comes to arrangement, whether suffocating or shimmering. The slow-burning Dust Planet comes layered with lush acoustics, gentle atmospherics and a thoroughly pretty approach to melody, while abstract electronic sketches punctuate the album, lending an ethereal otherness to their pastoral charms.