florist – if blue could be happiness

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

“album of the fortnight” is a bi-weekly feature that digs into a recent release of note.  the articles will run roughly during the middle and at the end of each month, always on a friday; the album or body of work in question will have been released at some point during that two-week span.  this column focuses on art that resonates deeply, on pieces that necessitate more than just a knee-jerk reaction.  next up: florist.

It’s tempting to be swallowed whole by the outward fragility of florist; emily sprague’s frank musings are accompanied by sparse, quiet instrumentation, a potent combination whose resulting intimacy and vulnerability should not be downplayed.  however, the fragile depiction of florist belies the determination that ultimately resonates across the band’s work and sprague’s lyrics.  if blue could be happiness, florist’s sophomore full-length, is matter-of-fact in its delivery, its broad scope equally capable of mining both serenity and devastation.

if blue could be happiness is the logical sonic successor to florist’s debut, the birds outside sang.  both albums hinge on sprague’s stream of consciousness and her gentle, finger-picked acoustic guitar, while consonant synthesizers ebb and flow amidst swells of percussion and occasional flourishes of strings; if anything, blue seems to demonstrate more control over this quiet, restrained method of orchestration.  it’s a familiar palette, therapeutic in its presentation, a calming demeanor gently swaying in an eternal breeze.  but whereas birds examined the aftermath of a near-death experience, blue occasionally zooms in on the loss of a family member and the subsequent reverberations.  the exploration of mortality continues, with a subtle change of the lens.

Florist If Blue Could Bethough the unexpected passing of sprague’s mother certainly informs sizable swaths of blue, framing the album solely in terms of grief does a disservice to the multitude of emotions sprague is able to deftly sift through.  the centerpiece “glowing brightly” perhaps exhibits this intricacy best; the track turns on the aching line of “mom, i love you / i still hear your voice inside my sleep” but quickly segues into a more uplifting realm, the titular verb and adverb brushstrokes on a sprawling canvas of picturesque, natural beauty.  elsewhere, sprague ruminates on the simple wonders of love (“eyes in the sun”) and devotes “thank you light” to a color-filled, poignant examination of self.

of course, the color blue carries significance far beyond its titular placement, almost becoming a desired state of existence that sprague explores in various capacities across the album.  on “understanding light” she wonders “why can’t i find a place to hide from the darkness? / i want to live in the blueness,” the hue becoming a more vibrant middle ground in between, or maybe an alternative to, the simple dichotomy of light and dark. on “what i wanted to hold,” a loving violet is slowly sun-bleached blue; later, a pale iteration is conflated with general well-being.

by the time sprague repeats the title track’s hypnotic, swaying mantra, if blue could be happiness has already graduated into a class with few other peers.  largely devoid of typical verse-chorus structures, blue feels squarely like an album reserved for intimate, introspective personal journeys, perhaps in bucolic surroundings.  it’s an album adorned with gorgeous snapshots of life, love, loss, friendship, and permutations of their various intersections; perhaps just as critically, blue also takes pointed pitstops to marvel at the myriad wonders of nature, a gentle reminder that while life is fleeting, beauty is omnipresent.

florist – “what i wanted to hold”

– featured image courtesy of the artist –

emily sprague’s output as florist is unparalleled.  across last year’s debut full-length, the birds outside sang, and its preceding extended play, 2015’s holdly, sprague created a perfect niche to lay her thoughts bare, one where sparse acoustic narratives can be processed alongside full-band ventures and more ambitious expeditions led by modular synthesizers.

“what i wanted to hold,” the first offering from florist’s upcoming sophomore album, skews more towards the former, with naught but soft strumming, root-note reinforcement, and some well-placed swells accompanying sprague’s vocal.  the end result is a singular environment, an invite-only expanse of pastoral fields filled with hues of the colors sprague explores throughout her lyrics.

if blue could be happiness is out september 29th via double double whammy.  listen to “what i wanted to hold” below.


most anticipated albums of 2016

most anticipated 2016kanye snubbed us in 2015.  frank ocean snubbed us in 2015.  rihanna snubbed us in 2015.  james blake snubbed us in 2015.  for every high-profile album that did emerge this year, there seemed to be one that was withheld; as we inch closer to 2016, we’re taking a look at fifteen albums that will hopefully see the light of day in the new year.  alphabetical order is your friend.  dig in after the jump.


chairliftedchairlift – the two singles chairlift released this fall indicate that the brooklyn duo’s forthcoming album moth, due out january 22nd, will be a bit darker and more ominous than its predecessors, but still more than capable of delivering a smattering of memorable hooks.

daughter banddaughter – not to disappear will most likely be the first impressionable full-length of 2016.  both “doing the right thing” and “numbers” double down on the themes of isolation and incredible sadness explored on if you leave, and the trio’s instrumentation is as lush and expansive as ever.

field divisionfield division – 2015 was a quiet year for the nashville-via-iowa duo, but we’re hoping that field division drop off their full-length follow-up to 2014’s excellent debut reverie state sometime very soon.

florist bandflorist – emy sprague’s appropriately-bucolic quartet florist popped up on our radar earlier this fall with holdly, a compact ep crammed with sharp songwriting and memorable melodies that thankfully serves as a placeholder for the birds outside sang, a full-length coming january 29th via double double whammy.

frank oceanfrank ocean – who knows where frank ocean is at?  the follow-up to his profound 2012 album channel orange is still missing-in-action, and probably will be for some time.  here’s to hoping that 2016 is the year that it finally surfaces.

james blakejames blake – radio silence was due in the spring of 2015, then the fall, and now the album is promised in the early months of 2016.  we’ll wait; hopefully it arrives in the dead of winter and provides solace for those cold, cruel months.

kanye westkanye west – yeezy season is perpetual.  kanye teased snippets of what could be on swish – “all day,” “fourfiveseconds,” “only one,” “wolves” – throughout 2015, but the album’s name could change again, and its release date certainly isn’t set in stone.  expect the internet to collectively lose it when new kanye material does drop, though.

mmryhsememoryhouse – one of the more pleasant surprises of this year has been the reemergence of memoryhouse.  the canadian dream-pop duo are prepping their sophomore album, soft hate, for a january release, and sneak peaks “dream shake” and “arizona” suggest the two have picked up right where they left off in 2012.

mick jenkinsmick jenkins – the healing component is the end game that mick jenkins has hinted at all along.  2014 delivered a very well-received mixtape in the water[s] followed by a new ep this year, wave[s], so it stands to reason that a proper full-length would come next.

pillar pointpillar point – scott reitherman will continue to hone his signature brooding electro-pop on marble mouth, out january 22nd via polyvinyl.  “dove” is already pillar point’s best work to date, accentuating both extremities of reitherman’s timbral spectrum; the rest of the album should at least be on par.

pity sexpity sex – michigan quartet pity sex effortlessly blended shoegaze with bits of pop-punk and emo on their excellent 2013 debut feast of love, and now the band is gearing up to drop white hot moon this coming spring via run for cover records.  be ready for ample amounts of forlorn looks.

the 1975the 1975 – if you want a huge pop record in 2016, you probably won’t have to look any further than the 1975.  matt healy’s manchester outfit is slated to release i like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it in february, and its early singles hint at a massive, killers-esque synth-pop romp.

tychotycho – scott hansen and company have decamped to work on the follow-up to 2014’s excellent awake.  if analog synth-driven ambient soundscapes are your thing, you’ll be particularly enthused when the new tycho album drops.

vancouver sleep clinicvancouver sleep clinic – the vancouver sleep clinic camp was frustratingly dormant all year, but project architect tim bettinson has promised something substantial in 2016.  whether that something is an album or an ep remains to be seen, however.

wild nothingwild nothing – jack tatum will deliver a new wild nothing album, life of pause, february 19th via captured tracks.  it’s the band’s first record in nearly four years, and will be a welcomed addition to an already-stellar discography.