Flowers - Do What You Want To: It's What You Should Do

by Jeff Penczak Rating:7 Release Date:2014-09-09

Don’t let what is surely the worst title of the year (absolutely no one is going to remember that overly burdensome mouthful when they walk into a record store) stop you from picking up one of the year’s brightest surprises. London trio Flowers ride Rachel Kenedy’s operatic vocals across 14 light and airy pop confections – the sort of female-fronted, puffy-clouded fluff that Fortuna Pop specializes in (‘Allo Darlin', Comet Gain, September Girls, Tender Trap et al).

These folks are a little more lo-fi than their labelmates, perhaps due to the estimable Bernard Butler’s surprisingly flat production, which places Jordan Hockley’s tinny drums way too high in the mix and makes Sam Ayres sound like he’s playing a toy guitar. They distract from Kenedy’s vocals – the band’s obvious selling point, although even that can grate a bit after each song spends so much time testing her higher registers.

But the songs save the day, from the bouncy, Camera Obscura-ish ‘Drag Me Down’ to the toe-tapping, Popguns-y ‘Lonely’, which manages to escape its elliptical tag-line, “Leave me alone/ but don’t leave me lonely”, thanks to Kenedy’s sincere delivery. ‘I Love You’ is not the most original song title, but the frenetic, hyperkinetic arrangement and Kenedy’s crystalline birdcalls will certainly have you believing her when she coos the title over and over again. And ‘Be With You’ is as aching a love song as you’ll hear all year (if only they dropped the incessant drums and opted for a more a capella arrangement).

So just ignore those Cocteau Twins comparisons (Kenedy sounds nothing like Liz Fraser - for starters, her voice is so much higher and the songs are anything but atmospheric. Sarah Cracknell and Saint Etienne is a little closer to what’s on offer here) and just sit back and enjoy some bright, playful pop. I’d like to hear Kenedy alter her one-note delivery in the future, but there’s definite promise here for great things to come.

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