Review Summary: Late Blooming
New York-based group Florist’s self-titled album is a bit of a strange release for a whole bunch of reasons. It’s a record which feels about as far from mandatory summer-time listening as you can get, but it’s been my biggest musical obsession during a relentlessly hot stretch of days. It’s a nineteen-track behemoth chock full of interludes and little scraps of songs, but somehow manages to reach cohesion. It’s Florist’s longest album (by far) but remarkably becomes their most consistent and effective work. All this means I’ve got a hell of a task before me explaining and exploring this one. Let’s begin.
is glum and stripped-back, best suited for a rainy day or a solitary moment with a lot on the mind. While the preponderent genre influence is still the lo-fi indie folk which the group has reliably pursued for three previous albums, slowcore and drone come to mind (more in style than in sound) with the album’s resistance to easy melodies and emphasis on subtlety and repetition. The lyrics, when comprehensible through the murk, are often cryptic, but emphasize musings on interpersonal relationships and the passage of time. They’re good stuff, forming the cherry on top of a record which produces a well-crafted mood and emerges as strangely addictive.
The tracklist here appears bloated from the get-go, and listening reveals a bevy of instrumentals, ambient interludes, and scarcely fleshed-out little numbers to go along with a smattering of lengthier folk tunes. To make this jigsaw fit together is quite an accomplishment, but one that is astonishingly achieved. It helps that every song, whether the lonesome ambient opener “June 9th Nighttime” or the repeated distorted “Bells” interludes or the fully fleshed-out folk tunes like “Spring In Hours” or “Dandelion” maintain the same hazed-out aesthetic, fitting of the album artwork’s muted color palette.
With a runtime of just under fifty-eight minutes, Florist
is the band’s most sprawling work by a wide margin (indeed, it’s nearly twice as long as the group’s first two records). If this was a prog-metal release, I’d just feel grateful that the band didn’t feel the need to tack on an extra thirty minute epic at the end, but for Florist’s chosen genre, this feels excessive and runs a serious danger of getting bland by the end. The shocking thing is that, even if the songs here aren’t particularly active, the listener somehow never feels the extended runtime. Nearly an hour floats by in an almost trancelike feeling of dreary beauty.
While this review might be odd, given it’s structured around discussing three different paradoxes which struck me about this unusual record, the bottom line is that Florist
is a really nice work, the sound of a band that’s been around the block a few times and has just now leveled up. After a series of good-to-great efforts, the self-titled manages to present a much more unified mood than its predecessors and additionally cuts out the spoken word moments which (in my opinion) greatly detracted from previous albums. Here, it all comes together. Don’t expect something revolutionary, but for folk fans, and anyone who enjoys atmospheric music more generally, this one’s worth a try.