Planet (i) from Squirrel Flower details destruction of cosmic proportions with folk melodies, sombre truths, and striking imagery.
Squirrel Flower is the moniker of Ella Williams, a soulful artist that earned a fanbase with her memorable elegies and a beautiful voice that translates emotions very, very convincingly.
On her fourth full length, Planet (i), the artist experiments with fuzzy, grungy tones, adding more bite and presence to her already stunning songwriting.
“I’ll be newer than before” is Squirrel Flower’s promise on opener I’ll Go Running, accompanied by a soaring harmony that makes you thoroughly believe her. The minimal backing, minor chords, and booming snare are reminiscent of Julia Jacklin, a key influence of the artist.
It’s one of the most powerful tracks on the record, enough make you want to dig your own grave (“dive into the ground”) only to jump out and run headfirst into the darkness.
The next track, Hurt A Fly, isn’t much brighter in tone. Yet still, it manages to sound upbeat and bullish. A single piano note splatters a rocking chorus as distortion embroiders Flower’s guitars and vocals. This crunchy slice of confidently emotional indie pop is one that lovers of Phoebe Bridgers and Clairo will definitely find solace in.
Meanwhile, gentle acoustic sounds carries Deluge In The South, a refreshing change of tone, and a slower pace, like a dreamy Kurt Vile cut. However, Squirrel Flower’s vocals are much smoother, laying down the listener in a bed of silk, as esoteric imagery enraptures.
“Facedown in the water, I stole a pack of cards from your gutter”: you can really let your imagination run wild on depictions like those.
Then suddenly, Big Beast is as straightforward as possible. It’s an effective songwriting choice for such a confessional moment of weakness. The blatant lyric “I get lonely, and I get fucked up” cuts like blunt scissors amidst the usual constellation of imagery and mysticism found in the rest of the tracklist.
Album single Flames And Flat Tires is a steadfast highlight with a music video to match. “This video is encased by the imagery of broken parts and abandonment”, comments director Lua Borges. The single explores the idea of physical objects never ceasing to exist despite eventually becoming useless.
It’s an inspired metaphor for what happens when humans feel empty and left alone, resorting to using “strength of survival”. To Be Forgotten, the following track, expands on this concept with some particularly affecting folk acoustic in an open-sounding tuning.
By the time closer Starshine rolls around, your emotions have well and truly been hung out to dry and face the elements. It’s exhausting, so it makes sense that Flower strips it all back for an intimate closer that offers hope. “Don’t let it pass, don’t let it wither”, her voice quivers in melancholic euphoria. Once more, it’s hard to deny the affecting strength of such a raw artist willing to understand her wounds.
Planet (i) is out now via Humblebrag Records / Virgin Music Australia. Stream or buy your copy here.