Flotation Toy Warning’s The Bluffers Guide to the Flight Deck
is one unique trip. It’s a strange mixture of eerie psychadelica, alternative rock, folk, and dream-pop. To make things more clear if you were to toss Pink Floyd, Sparklehorse, the Flaming Lips, and Talk Talk into a blender then this album would likely come out of it. Although this is an odd combination it’s true, Flotation Toy Warning take influences from all of those bands and fuse it together to form one distinct sound. It’s quite surprising that The Bluffers Guide to the Flight Deck
didn’t receive any critical acclaim considering that the album is one of the most unique, quirky, and lush records to come out of 2004.
The album opens up with Happy 13
and it’s the catchiest track off the album. A steady beat kicks things off along with atmospheric keyboard tones. Once Paul Carters mesmerizing vocals come into the song it quickly turns into a soothing trip-hop influenced tune. Happy 13
is the only track that would be able to receive any airplay since all the other songs are either to long or to unconventional. Losing Carolina; For Drusky
hints heavily at post-rock as glossy guitar lines combine with a subtle yet important accordion sound that propels the song along. The gloomy atmosphere of the song fits the instrumentation perfectly and while there isn’t much buildup the song clocks in at almost eight minutes showcasing some soothing keyboard and vocal arrangements towards the end.
Unfortunately those two tracks are the only real standouts featured on The Bluffers Guide to the Flight Deck
. The most frustrating aspect of the album is how some songs are really brought down due to their length. Donald Pleasence
is a nine minute ballad where the band brings out mournful trumpets, muted keyboard twinkles and dreary orchestrations. It’s an interesting piece of music but it’s hard to listen to considering the fact that it sounds like it would be played at a funeral. Even Fantastica
is also a brought down by its length. A simple guitar chord repeats itself over some depressing orchestra effects, the music gets repetitive after a while and the instrumentation is also very sparse and bland.
The Bluffers Guide to the Flight Deck
is a fairly depressing album that features a few upbeat and poppy tunes. Fire Engine on Fire Pt.
is a poppy tune that incorporates hand claps, xylophones, and looped keyboard sparkles together to make a fun little pop song. The funny thing is that Fire Engine on Fire Pt.2
is another funeral influenced tune as it’s dry organs and heavy beat give it an intense and depressing feel. Although I’m not going to criticize the album for it’s range it’s can be a tough listen since the mood and atmosphere can quickly change from loveable pop tunes to dreary post-rock influenced ballads.
Another thing that strikes me funny is how no instruments really dominate the album. One moment a song will be dominated by funky keyboard scales and in a matter of seconds the song will change over to a melancholy organ controlled opera. I applaud the band for having such a unique songwriting approach but at the same time it gets kind of hard to listen to.
In the end The Bluffers Guide to the Flight Deck
is an uncommon album as it explores psychadelica, folk, funk, post-rock, and pop. If Flotation Toy Warning knew when to end certain songs then this would be a more cohesive and smooth listen. Most of these tracks are over six minutes and at times they uselessly meander without any direction. That being said there are some sparkling moments such as the trippy opener, the lush Losing Carolina; For Drusky
and the funky/depressing Fire Engine series. While The Bluffers Guide to the Flight Deck
isn’t anything to wet yourself over it’s an enjoyable listen for anyone seeking unconventional music that branches out to many different genres.