New York-based quartet Florist embrace both their lyrical and ambient sensibilities on their new self-titled album, out on Double Double Whammy.
Some bands are so adept at communicating intimacy and emotional connection that they feel like friends. Florist is one of those bands. It’s helpful that the group is made up of four close collaborators who have been churning out unassumingly beautiful albums for the past decade. Their self-titled new album, Florist, is a beautiful ode to the magic of human connection. The record is a warm hug, enveloping listeners in a bubble of love as the band explores grief, joy, and everything in between.
Florist is comprised of Emily Sprague (guitar, synth, vocals), Jonnie Baker (guitar, synth, sampling, bass, saxophone, vocals), Rick Spataro (bass, piano, synth, vocals) and Felix Walworth (percussion, synth, guitar, vocals). Their new release was recorded over the summer of 2019, the first time the quartet recorded that way, and for that long. Sprague recalls. “Living together for a month is a really big part of why the arrangements are the way they are, and also why the instrumentals are such a huge part of the record.”
Though the group has released several albums since debut Living Alone in 2013, this is their first self-titled work. Sprague expounded on why this work was most fitting for their name, explaining, “We called it ‘Florist’ because this is not just my songs with a backing band. It’s a portrait of who we are as collaborators, as really long-term friends and as extended family as well.”
The album opens on the luxuriously lazy “June 9th Nighttime,” which features a wailing guitar and light woodwind embellishments against a backdrop of chirping crickets. This track is a perfect introduction to the project, readying listeners for the meditative and thoughtful record to come. There are several soundscapes like this throughout the record, most notably “Finally,” the “Bells” trilogy, and closing track “Johnny On The Porch.” These tracks are careful and calming, perfect medicine for these chaotic and cacophonic times. These meditations and musings perfectly exemplify the band’s ability to soak in slow-moving offerings.
On the other hand, tracks like “Red Bird Pt 2” are packed with the masterful lyrics that fans have come to expect from Florist. On this song, Sprague reflects on grief, singing, “How can it be that the days go on / and the red bird sings its red bird song. / It happened to us and it’s happened before and it happens all the same. / I can hear your singing still / Wake up in the morning / Let the morning come. / Sing me a song please / sing me a song.” Though simple, the lyrics are instantly relatable to anyone who has experienced a loss. On every Florist album, there is always a lyric or two that will linger for listeners long after the album has been relegated to a forgotten corner of Spotify. This release is full of these unforgettable, incredible bits of writing.
The songs names are short and simple—Like the titles of Edward Hopper paintings, they efficiently encapsulate the song by intimating where the song was recorded or the subject of the song. Indeed, listening to Florist is like walking through a well-curated museum. There are masterpieces on the wall. They’re all a little different, but they carry a common message. Audiences can dig for a deeper meaning, or they can simply look around and enjoy the beauty on the surface.
In some ways, Florist is a follow-up album to Sprague‘s 2019 “solo” album, Emily Alone. It’s unclear if Emily Alone was an extension of Florist or if Florist is an extension of Sprague herself, but it doesn’t really matter. When Sprague, Baker, Spataro, and Walworth come together, true artistry occurs.
“Do not say goodbye,” the group sings soberly on track “Organ’s Drone.” The sentiment rings true for fans—Though lengthy, the record is over too soon. Truly, it’s amazing to be alive while Florist releases music: the album is a beautifully packaged project that exhibits this quiet, thoughtful band at its finest.