Overcast teals, construction paper blues. And the crestfallen lilt of Emily Sprague, Florist’s lead singer, airily touching the cloud-dotted proceedings. The band’s sound is a raw, tearfully confessional, catwalk of emotion. Sprague is young, but the material here, sung with a soulful sadness, could have been ripped out of a Saddle Creek record nearly a decade ago. The minimal instrumentation plays marbles with the bruised vocals. Listening to Florist is like revisiting the ghost of an early aughts Jen Wood album. Or being wrapped up in the cozy nuances of Rilo Kiley’s early work. That is not to say that Sprague and company don’t deliver their own brand of wintery reflection. There are lyrics here, written with severe pain, that live in their own tangible world. “Rings Grow”, off of The Birds Outside Sang, is such a personal song that you can feel the wet ink. “If there’s one thing that I believe, it’s that the wind can make you a child again,” she sings. “If there’s one thing that I believe, it’s that my body will be the same wherever I bleed.” The lines are straight-forward and free of cloying sentiment, and yet they still manage to pull off a wounded pirouette in the stirred leaves of her aching voice.
“Friendship” is mentioned a lot on Florist’s Bandcamp and Facebook pages. Their social media profiles are removed of busy photographs and touched-up promotional materials. Swatches of color dab the canvas, but otherwise the band’s aesthetic is cream and cardamom – everything unpretentious. It’s a strange waltz, walking through the embers of old memories. “I Was” evokes tones and textures from Death Cab for Cutie’s We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes, an album that changed the climate of indie music in 2000. Not necessarily a throwback, Florist lives somewhere between the dreams of a pastoral present and the phantom limbs of a not-so-distant past. There is not one song that I can remember being as powerful as “Thank You”. Soaked in a solitary reverb, the ebb of Sprague’s haunted delivery breaks the soil of something undiscovered – the crumbling earth of someone’s past. With The Birds Outside Sang, we have one of the most honest albums in a decade. It has been so long since Cat Power dug deep or that Ben Gibbard showed his bones, that you almost forget what to do with this sort of beautiful, open-nerved confession.