I saw art-pop band Flotation Walls a few weeks ago at PA’s Lounge with friends St. Claire, who have known the band since their high school days in Columbus, OH. St. Claire’s lovely lead singer had told me good things about the band, but I had already decided that I wasn’t going out to the show. Luckily a solid text message guilt trip broke through my shownertia (See what I did there??? Brilliant.) and I made it out. Their live show totally blew me away: you can read all about it here.
I purchased their album, Nature, at the show, and haven’t stopped listening to it since. It’s a masterfully produced, lush, layered album; it’s dynamically varied, brilliantly arranged, and totally unique.
The album opens with the life-affirming “Sperm & Egg,” which starts out as a lilting, French-café style waltz in which frontman Carlos Avendaño sings sweetly about impregnation. The track expands to include cymbal-heavy textural drums and one of the album’s constant choral motifs. “Sperm & Egg” segues into “Worms,” a frantic, sample-heavy electronica piece about death. The song ends with a choral track and moves into “Kids, Look at the Waves,” an elegant acoustic-guitar based love song with an unexpectedly strong bridge. The fourth track, “The Flickering Projection” is one of my favorites on the album. Structure-wise, it’s more straight-ahead than the preceding tracks, but the dynamics keep it totally interesting, and the backing choral tracks are expertly deployed to gorgeous effect on the catchy-as-hell chorus.
Even on tracks that are less existential in nature and more narrative, like the almost precious “Willis the Fireman” and surreal “Timmy Twofingers,” Flotation Walls exhibit a musical seriousness that gives the album real heft. There are no throwaway tracks. “Frozen Lake”, “Body,” and the lovely paean “I’ve Seen Death and His Tremendous Pink Eyes” are all gorgeous in scope. The only comparisons that come to mind, at least in terms of arrangement, are the vast songscapes of Sigur Ros or Arcade Fire. Nature is a big, ambitious album, and every track feels important. My favorite is tension-laden track nine, “The Sky Ejaculates,” which starts softly and sweetly, breaks halfway through for a beautifully orchestrated interlude, and then cracks into a spare, powerful bridge.
The album closes tastefully with the quiet acoustic guitar and piano-based “Wet With Light.” I was surprised, at first listen, with the subtlety of the final track, but I appreciate how calmly the album ends. It feels complete; a beautifully conceived album from start to finish.
For purchasing information please see the Flotation Walls official site.