by Tiana Feng
Release Date: August 20th, 2013
Label: Flemish Eye
It has been 2 years since experimental pop-art band Braids released their Polaris nominated Native Speaker. Since then, their keyboardist Kathy Lee and singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston had a falling out. The band was going in a more electronic direction and Lee sought out more vocal lines in order to expand her involvement with the band. However, Standell-Preston knew her vocals were an integral part of Braids and would not succumb to these changes and Lee left the band. It was probably for the better. Flourish // Perish dropped the guitars and real drums for electronics. The album is assembled completely in Ableton, with pre-recorded instrument samples.
If Native Speaker was a season, it would be summer and Flourish // Perish its opposite, an icy winter. It is beautiful but definitely not as bright. Beneath Standell-Preston’s ethereal vocals, there are dark lyrics. “Hossak” is about a friend lost to LSD. There’s this airplane-like noise at 1:57 that mimics the act of losing control. “Girl” takes its time. Whispered vocals challenge the traditions of rhythm writing. The ego battle between the singer and Lee is told in both the sorrowful crumbling foundation of “Together” and the previously revealed “Amends”. “We have come so far, don’t throw this,” sings the latter. Both tunes show the influence of Standell-Preston’s other project Blue Hawaii. There’s really less of a distinction between the two than there was previously with Native Speaker. A lot of Flourish could fit right into Blue Hawaii’s 2013 release Untogether.
Perhaps, it is self-obsessed subject matter that divides the two. The album closer “In Kind” sings of a questionable life and wishes to reborn again, “fresh and white again”. It will be interesting to see how the bands takes Flourish // Perish live. Will there be a band or will they remix themselves into a dance party like Blue Hawaii?
You can still stream the full album over at Exclaim!