Flowerss- Charm

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Thursday, February 28, 2013

Electro-shoegaze isn’t a term I’ve seen thrown around very often, but perhaps I just haven’t been looking in the right places. This was one of the main phrases used to describe Charm, the debut album from Flowerss. Both members that make up the group come from different musical backgrounds and reside in different locations (Christapher Larsen’s in Sacramento and Andrew Hoke lives in Austin), and as a result Charm was created by emailing ideas back and forth until they came to fruition. It’s an approach that appears to have worked quite well, and while I would have personally preferred another song or two rather than the remixes at the end it does hint at some of the directions this project hopes to head in.

While “electro” might have you thinking that Flowerss has significantly upped their electronic elements in comparison to other shoegaze/indie rock bands, this isn’t the case until you reach the two remixes at the end of Charm. For the most part the electronic elements are somewhat subdued and work in conjunction with the guitar work to create a sound that’s equal parts shoegaze, indie rock, and trip hop. This combination of styles suit each other, and the type of dreary melodies that often define shoegaze and trip hop are on display in full effect throughout the album. At times Flowerss has quite a familiar feel, but they always seem to be heading in different directions as one moment might go full shoegaze with slow drifting melodies while the next ups the beats and touches upon some dreary grooves. Quite a bit of the material was able to hook me and warrant repeat listens, but I do wish there had been at least one more song before the remixes. The remixes certainly aren’t bad, and reveal that the band can still be quite successful when they dial the electronic elements up to become much more prominent but at the same time they don’t fundamentally change the material that much from their original variants.

Christapher Larsen handles all of the vocal work on Charm, and he has a style that gives off both a shoegaze and indie rock vibe. While his singing is a bit clearer and not completely awash in reverb and echo like the average shoegaze vocalist, Larsen still has a haunting presence as his voice often drifts over the melodies. But there’s a bit more directness to the performance, and the way that the record has been mixed often makes the vocals have a bit more of a traditional rock vibe at times. Admittedly there were a few passages where his voice seemed to get a little shaky as he headed into some slightly higher pitched ranges, but for the most part the performance was strong and enhanced the melody created by the instrumentals.

I think I would have rather seen Flowerss up the electronic elements on some more original tracks rather than remixing two songs already on the album, but this doesn’t take away from the quality of the overall release. Trip hop and shoegaze make sense together as they both veer towards dreary tonality and melodic hooks and this duo has managed to offer some engaging material. There is certainly room for further growth and outside the box thinking, but Charm should provide the solid base that is needed to really push this group to their full potential.

http://www.testpatternrecords.com/

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