It’s oddly satisfying when a band fit their name so well that it seems almost absurd that they might be called anything else. Perth’s Flower Drums sound exactly as their name might imply. They create drowsy electronica injected with a solid dose of dream pop and soul, a combination that is becoming increasingly ubiquitous in Aussie music (thanks for that Chet Faker), but Flower Drums have been poking their heads above the rest over the past few months.
Flower Drums are as charming as ever on their second EP 28 Mansions, the Perth foursome showing a winning combination of dream pop, soul and electronica.
28 Mansions is the second EP from the four piece, five tracks full of percussive electronica, analog synths and breathy vocals. The whole thing is dedicatedly down tempo, overarched with dogmatic minimalism and gloom. The first three tracks on 28 Mansions have already been released as singles, and all three have been adored.
Perth is fast developing a reputation as Australia’s gold mine of good bands, and it seems like Flower Drums are setting themselves up to be city’s next big thing. Bad Websites opens the EP with stuttering abruptness; sounding more R&B than electronica before it melts into a bed of analog synths and soft, clean beats. The whole thing is graceful and measured, the production super tight and assured.
Sparkling clean guitars curl around lead singer Leigh Craft’s husky falsetto as he laments about “Too many midnight drives/and endless eyes on bad websites.” There are touches of The XX in the nocturnal haze that covers the majority of 28 Mansions. It feels like a late night kind of record, it’s cinematic and dark in a way that isn’t particularly striking, but it lures you in calmly if you’ll let it. Don’t Wait features Fremantle singer Olivia Gavranich’s (aka St. South) vocals alongside Craft’s. Her voice drifts about the track like a spectre and is a welcome break from Craft’s unbending falsetto. There is an awesomely woozy guitar break dropped in the middle of the track that lures it into an even greater state of drowsiness.
End II End is the latest single from the EP. The band have said that it was originally intended to be a heavier track but after scrapping the original mix they opted for a more stripped back sound. There is a bit of soul in there but the track never really picks up off the ground and I can’t help but wonder what the ‘heavier’ version might have sounded like.
Strangely, it’s the two non-singles that really shine on 28 Mansions. Flower Drums have a penchant for great analog synth sounds that seems as though they have been labored over tirelessly. ATS sounds like it could have been taken from Washed Out’s Paracosm, or the first Holiday’s record if either had chosen to forsake sunshine for moonlight. It’s got a bit more groove than the previous tracks, and a little more quirk, which seems to work for Flower Drums. The icy guitars and video game samples are dreamlike, stark and randomly placed, which is oddly soothing.
Walking At Night would be the perfect name for any of the five tracks on the EP, and weirdly enough, it’s the most upbeat track on the record. It sounds like something from The Cure’s Disintegration with it’s warbled guitar lines and moody keys. Samples of birds chirping echo in the background and it does a damn good job of holding up its namesake. Live drums are used for most of track, replacing the soft padding percussion that underlays the rest of the EP. It’s a welcome change, injecting the song with undeniable animation. Synths oscillate around a gloomy guitar solo as the song falls into a groove based tangent before the drums fade away into nothing. It sounds like the band are letting loose, stretching their limbs, and it’s probably the best part of the record.
28 Mansions shows a whole lot of restraint, but it’s the moments where the songs lash out a little that Flower Drums are at their best. They’ve got all the right elements and it’s no wonder people are clawing all over them, but restraint can sometimes become a little tiresome. They will go a long way no doubt, and 28 Mansions will definitely help them get there, but it’s where they will take their sound next that is the most intriguing.
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