Silk Flowers, the latest signing to No Age drummer Dean Spunt’s Post Present Medium label (sometime home of Mika Miko, Barr, Abe Vigoda; the usual suspects), will put out their debut album, Silk Flowers, on July 7, and according to Spunt it is a ‘FUCKING 4 TRACK MASTERPIECE.’
That’s obviously a bit of hyperbole, but Silk Flowers is definitely the most intriguing record to come from the PPM camp in ages. When it opens, on ‘Flash of Light’, you can’t tell if it’s a tribute to C-90 culture or a post-everything ironic 80s love-in. Of course, one’s fine and the other’s hideous, but it’s hard to tell what Silk Flowers’ actual deal is when vocalist Aviram Cohen baritones along like your pisshead uncle doing his worst Ian Curtis impression. It sounds a bit like John Maus’ ‘Rights for Gays’ being covered by Heartbreak, but if Heartbreak looked like The Strokes. If you know what I mean.
But as Silk Flowers goes on, and unravels, you realise there’s much more to this album than this. For a start, the production (courtesy of Saturday Looks Good to Me and City Center’s Fred Thomas, as it turns out) is perfect: the dynamic tracks like ‘Night Shade’ achieve between warm walls of fuzz and spiky, abrasive drums is so suited to the music present it’s astonishing. I know the world’s banged on about Ariel Pink and his dreams of AM radio enough for one lifetime, but it’s here too: on tracks like ‘Sand’ and ‘Costume’; both of which sound nostalgic in a way that’s far more genuine than anything on the last Horrors album.
A brief bit of background to this lot; they’re a trio that formed after the break-up of moderately hyped New York outfit Soiled Mattress and the Springs: keyboardist Peter Schuette and aforementioned multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Cohen were both in the band, who I never really liked anyway. The third member of Silk Flowers is Ethan Swan, who’s a member of Car Clutch and blogs about cool shit like City Center and Grouper here. Silk Flowers have a blog too, so I’m sure there’s more information there if you delve.
But as is usually the way, the music’s what’s interesting here, and Silk Flowers to my ears is sounding like one of the best albums of the year, along with full-lengths from the band’s peers: Blank Dogs, City Center and Ducktails. It’s a record that seems to get better every time you play it; taking in all the good shit you’ve ever liked in your life (Joy Division, John Carpenter, Adam Ant, even occasionally some of El-P’s more mournful production turns – seriously) and filtering them through a unique, diverse, almost childlike take on music that’s unlike much else around right now.