Thursday, August 25, 2011
New Record! Arctic Flowers: Reveries
Artist: Arctic Flowers
Label: Inimical Records
After a long hiatus, 30,000 Songs is back in action! Life has kept me too busy to review (or even listen to many) records in the last few weeks. But now, I have a short window before, well, before that happens again for a while, actually. But for more fun reasons. Anyway, those who have been with the blog since its inception might recall that in the original outline for the project, I said that if I acquired a new record that fit in somewhere I'd already passed, I'd review it upon acquisition. I actually bought this a few weeks ago, but again, no time.
But now, without further ado, the new LP by Portland's Arctic Flowers. I first saw Arctic Flowers opening for the Subhumans (I think? Might have been Citizen Fish? I can't really remember) last year, and I was frankly blown away. Arctic Flowers play anarcho-punk, not crust. Female vocals that mostly sing and occasionally shout, but never really scream, compliment dark, melodic guitar lines and a warm, undistorted bass. The drummer makes full use of his toms and in doing so fills out the sound nicely.
The band are clearly influenced by the British anarcho-punk of the 1980s, but are much more in the tradition of Lack of Knowledge, Zounds, Omega Tribe, Rubella Ballet (who's song "Arctic Flowers" is presumably the source of the band's name) or the other bands from that scene that developed their musicianship by incorporating post-punk influences than the likes of Crass or Conflict. There definitely sounds like there's some post-punk influences here, and occasionally even some moments that are reminiscent of emo back when that genre still had something to offer. The guitar, for example, reminds me in places of old Sunny Day Real Estate. At other times I'm also reminded of the quieter moments on the third WitchHunt LP. This is definitely punk rock, but it demonstrates a wider array of influences than the average punk band and probably has something to offer even those who aren't big punk fans (though probably not for those who dislike punk). It's powerful, but not as assaultive as a lot of the music from the genre and there's some really competent and innovative musicianship going on here.
The lyrics here are a blend of personal and political, delivered in a manner that's compelling, haunting, and passionate by a woman who knows how to use her voice in more than one way. The production is warm yet crisp, with a few effects used on the vocals that add to the haunting, post-punky feel of the record. It's hard to pick out highlights because the whole record is so good, but I guess I'd point to the title track, the opening track ("Double Edged") and "Cri de Coeur" (which apparently means "an impassioned outcry") as my favorites. This may well be my favorite record of 2011. If you like any punk rock at all, you should check this band out.
The record is new enough that I can' really find any tracks from it online. It's not hard to find some of their earlier stuff from their first demo if you want to, which would give you sort of an idea of what to expect, but those tracks are less polished and mature efforts, and, not being from this record, I won't post them here. It's not on iTunes either, so you'll have to track this down on your own, or better yet, go see the band live. Just like in the old days.
Total songs reviewed: 475