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It’s an unusual feeling to be both comforted and unsettled by a piece of music but somehow this is the feeling Summer Flake’s latest release exudes. Laden with rich compositions and the ambling voice of Stephanie Crase, Hello Friends presents us with a sound that’s just as delicately dream-like as it is raw and cutting.
Dream pop and grunge dance together in perfect unison on Summer Flake’s Hello Friends, with Stephanie Crase nailing a combination that, in so many ways, shouldn’t work.
It’s been three years since Summer Flake graced the world with their 2013 debut album You Can Have It All – the release that tossed the outfit into an international market. Since then, Stephanie Crase and co. have been garnering attention from the likes of Noisey, Stereogum and the legendary Henry Rollins, in addition to creating a moody, experimental follow up LP. The sophomore full-length doesn’t disappoint, allowing us to dive ten songs deep into a murky pool of rockin’ guitar pop, hazy dream pop and remnants of the 90s grunge scene, whilst never feeling suffocated under the weight of so many genres.
The first single off Hello Friends came to us via a sullen garage number called Shoot and Score. Presenting one side to the multi-edged sword that is Stephanie Crase, this single takes a nonchalant turn with crooning vocals that are simultaneously careless yet painstakingly harmonised. A mid-tempo backbone and the occasional distorted guitar lick keep the show moving, whilst still maintaining an incredibly difficult to achieve air of effortlessness. It’s all part of a lo-fi low-care motif that runs through the veins of Summer Flake’s second release, proving how versatile the band is.
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Contrasting the straightforward tones of Shoot and Score comes So Long: a beautifully dreamy acid trip packaged with a wobbly melody and tied up with Crase’s hushed dulcet singing. So Long dips into a world where troubles melt away into puddles of nothing and all that remains is an aching confession of “my time has come, this course has done its run. My soul is weary, though you’re so dear to me, I know it’s time to go.” Soon after, this moment of solace melts away too and breaks open into warm shoegaze territory.
Wine Won’t Wash Away (aside from having a hideously true title) once again provides a different angle, taking a more upbeat route with bright riffs and soaring vocals. There’s no way this can be anything other than a crowd pleaser as Summer Flake takes a moment to stick to their guns with a vibrant hook and an uplifting little instrumental outro reminiscent of classic sun-bleached Australian pop.
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In theory, this release shouldn’t work. As a culmination of elements from grunge, alt-rock, dream-pop, folk and anything else you can pull out, it’s easy to file the work into a drawer of confusion and intimidation – but in reality this is so much more. Hello Friends is an album destined to be felt, rather than heard. Each track highlights Crase’s ability to seamlessly combine an odd collection of melodies, rhythms and harmonies to create something that demands attention, proving once again she is one of the most talented and innovative women in Australian music.
Hello Friends is set to be released on April 8 via Rice is Nice Records. You can also catch Summer Flake at the following dates in May.
6 May – Brisbane Hotel, Hobart
13 May – The Union Hotel, Sydney – FREE SHOW
14 May – Trainspotters, Brisbane
20 May – The Tote, Melbourne
21 May – The Eastern, Ballarat
3 June – Hotel Metro, Adelaide