Though it often translates as being a little too fragile for its own good, the balance between the neon-colored guitar parts and the emotional lead vocals we find in the new album Flowers from Waxflight is undisputedly reason enough for you to get the record this January. That said, if you think that’s where the charm ends in this LP, you’re in for quite a surprise; from the clandestine “Myth of You” to the more abrasive “Daughters of Progress,” Waxflight aren’t content to show us one side of their collective personality exclusively. Multidimensionality is the order of the day in this album, and whether captured in the form of a psychedelic-tinged melody or a volatile verse as cutting as it is relatable, it’s something you can count on experiencing in Flowers.
The duality of this record extends well beyond the interplay between the instrumentation and the vocal component; in songs like the Gun Club-reminiscent “Chemicals,” subtle “Kissing a Stranger” and progressive-minded “New Dogs,” the very style of the composing implies a split screen of emotions not commonly found in mainstream pop/rock. I’ve grown far too hesitant to throw around the term ‘alternative rock’ in the past thirty years for reasons quite obvious to anyone who follows indie music seriously, but what Waxflight are successfully experimenting with in Flowers undeniably meets the parameters of the genre’s foundational sound. “Equation” rebels against the conventionality of the FM model with atmospheric tones held hostage by an angry beat, while “Ny-Lon” shamelessly drifts away into a sobering haze of self-awareness for no other reason than to make hard-hitting statements early on in the tracklist. Possible in a commercially-plasticized major label effort? I think not.
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There’s no arguing whether or not the vocal has ample room to breathe in “Fall Into Life,” “Sancte Michael” and “This Street,” but the backdrop it straddles in each of these songs never feels or sounds vacant by comparison. On the contrary, I would say that the very absence of texture frequently conveys as much as any given lyric or eruptive melody ever could in Flowers, which isn’t something that I’ve been able to say about another LP to debut in the past year. This is a very thorough affair, and one that absolutely leaves me wanting more from Waxflight sooner than later.
Surprisingly cerebral and deep-feeling in ways that I wasn’t necessarily expecting, Waxflight’s Flowers is a stunner of a record that demands repeat listens right out of the gate. Clearly influenced by both the insularity of quarantine culture and the vintage sounds of neo-psychedelia and post-punk at its most scathingly literal, this is an album you won’t soon forget after giving it your complete attention for the length of its ten-song tracklist. It definitely raises some new questions about where the band will go next from here, and above all others, when we’re going to have the opportunity to hear this material performed on stage and in the environment it was always meant for us to hear it in.