Everybody’s Dying To Meet You
Fortuna POP! CD/LP/DL - 12 February
There’s something great about a three-piece – think The Cocteau Twins, The Clean, Galaxie 500 – and the way that irreducible nucleus takes its strength from its limitations, making a virtue of its purity. And so it is with London trio Flowers, returning with their second album Everybody's Dying To Meet You in February 2016 via Fortuna Pop! (EU) and Kanine (US). Over the course of ten intensely thrilling pop songs, singer Rachel Kenedy's ethereal vocals and Sam Ayres textured guitar are backed by the powerful, metronomic beat of drummer Jordan Hockley.
Flowers began with Sam’s year-long search for a singer, and when he posted one last fateful advert, stating he wanted to make pop songs like "early Madonna through a broken tape machine", this led him to Rachel. Right away the two fell into a deeply creative and romantic partnership. Currently sharing a flat in East London with their adorable dog Batman, they restore vintage musical equipment and feverishly record demos.
The first batch, polished up by none other than Bernard Butler, turned into debut Do What You Want To, It's What You Should Do released in 2013. Created during a period of illness for Ayres, the result is an album that, while exquisite in its own way, is necessarily subdued in tone.
For Everybody’s Dying to Meet You the band retreated to Bark Studios in Walthamstow to work with producer Brian O'Shaughnessey (The Clientele, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine), a return home for Sam, who was born and spent most of his life in the area. It proved to be the perfect fit for Flowers, the sessions enabling them to capture the essence of both their dynamic live sound and their distortion-laden home demos. Effortlessly blending pop songs with noise while leaving space for more stripped back elements, the recordings strike a perfect balance between the sweetness of Rachel’s voice and Sam’s abrasive guitar stylings. Their musical inspirations, from shoegaze, C86 and New Zealand’s Flying Nun label, are now evident.
The infuriatingly catchy first single and opening track “Pull My Arm” nearly didn’t make it onto the album. Written during rehearsals for their tour with Luna after album recording sessions had finished, the band hastily booked another day at Bark and laid it down the day after the tour finished. Band favourite “Ego Loss” began with Sam playing with a new guitar pedal and writing a punk number… before the addition of Rachel’s words saw it morph into something completely different. Other highlights include the pop rush of “Bitter Pill” and the mesmeric, slow-burning “Intrusive Thoughts”.
Armed with a youthful intensity and determination that shows in their songs, Flowers has succeeded in harnessing their singular magic. Exuberant and electrifying, Everybody’s Dying To Meet You crackles with confidence.
Do What You Want To, It's What You Should Do
Fortuna POP! - 8 September 2014
London trio Flowers will release their debut album Do What You Want To, It's What You Should Do in September via Fortuna POP! (UK/EU) and Kanine Records (USA). Produced by Bernard Butler, the album captures the intensity of being young in fourteen deceptively simple pop songs that take their power from their brevity, elevated by Rachel Kenedy’s extraordinary voice.
Flowers are Sam Ayres (Guitar/Synths), Rachel Kenedy (Vocals/Bass/Synths) and Jordan Hockley (Drums), brought together by Sam’s advert for a singer to make music like "Madonna through a broken tape machine". The three of them immediately moved in together and spent the following weeks writing pop songs, practicing daily in their living room and recording through the night, barely sleeping with the excitement of it all and amassing a huge collection of over a hundred songs in demo form.
When they posted the results of their feverish recording online, word quickly spread and within weeks they were touring Europe with The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, despite never having played live before. More shows followed, including a support for Young Marble Giants in London at the behest of another fan who had discovered them via the internet, Young Marble Giants guitarist / songwriter Stuart Moxham. Appropriate first supports, as Flowers' live performances draw a line between the joyous fuzzpop of The Pains and the minimalist brilliance of Young Marble Giants. The reception at the shows was nothing less than rapturous, with audiences blown away by their intensity and compelled by their sparse beauty: Jordan a physical yet inventive presence behind the drum kit, Sam a constant blur of kinetic energy on guitar and Rachel utterly still. The shows would often end with the stark and mesmeric “Stuck”, with Rachel alone, accompanying herself a one-string bass guitar, soul laid bare.
It was clear that Flowers needed a producer to help them capture the emotion and simplicity of their live show and that search led them to the door of Bernard Butler, whose track record and love of the Cocteau Twins marked him out to be the perfect choice. That and his love of the Gibson ES-355 guitar that Sam also plays. And so it was that Flowers’ very first foray into a proper recording studio was at Butler’s 355 Studio – a daunting prospect for a young band, softened by Butler’s sensitive production and access to his collection of beautiful analogue synths and Vox organ. Band and producer worked in harmony to produce a set of songs much cleaner and clearer sounding than anything they had recorded before, dispensing with the “wall of sound” that characterised their home recordings and providing the clarity to allow the songs to breathe.
Across these fourteen songs, Flowers explore the gamut of emotions that come with youth. As Rachel says, “We were young writing this album (we still are I think!), so all the songs reflect the emotions of being young, which covers just about everything to the extreme; loneliness, happiness, rejection, love, torment, excitement... “. For every song about the carefree, halcyon days of youth (“Young”, “Forget The Fall”), there is another about the pain of relationships (“Drag Me Down”, “Lonely”). The album closes with a run of three exquisite numbers: “Be With You”, “a song of reassurance, about knowing that everything will get better somehow, because it can't not, some things are too good to ever end.”; “Plastic Jane”, “about someone who wears a facade with nothing underneath” (lyric: “Your plastic pain / just like Novocaine”); and the aforementioned “Stuck”.
Most of the songs weigh in at less than three minutes, a deliberate strategy for a band that seeks strength in simplicity. “Our songs tend to be quite short - if there's something that doesn't need to be there, take it out! Just leave in the best bits”, explains Rachel. “We love all kinds of things, Ramones, Madonna, The Misfits, Iggy & The Stooges, Joy Division, all sorts! The album doesn't sound too much like any of those, but the songs are short and simple pop songs, and all those artists we love write songs like that.”
Indeed, Flowers’ genius is in their ability to convey a remarkable amount of emotion with minimal instrumentation. Rachel possesses one of those beautiful pop voices to die for, with echoes of Elizabeth Fraser, Hope Sandoval and Harriet Wheeler, whilst Sam’s guitars chime and churn with an incredible intensity and Jordan’s drums rip right through with urgency and precision, resulting in a beautiful album that conjures up a strange and entrancing sort of magic. Haunting, mesmerizing and intense, Do What You Want To, It's What You Should Do is an impressive calling card from a sensational new band.
“Steeped in indie lore, in a charming, self-effacing way of translating emotion into sound” CLASH
“Kenedy’s angelic vocals and the clean, simple melodies are undeniable” THE LINE OF BEST FIT
“This energetic run through love, sadness, loneliness, helplessness and happiness perfectly captures the range of emotions that shape us as humans” GOLD FLAKE PAINT
“You can get a taste of their legitimately stirring and brilliant brand of soaring rock with the opening track ‘Young’” TINY MIX TAPES