On their debut album Do What You Want To, It’s What You Should Do, London trio Flowers, consisting of singer Rachel Kenedy, guitarist Sam Ayres and drummer Jordan Hockley, synthesise the kinetic energy and raw vulnerability of their live shows into fourteen deceptively simple pop songs. Exploring the gamut of emotions that accompany coming of age, Do What You Want To, It’s What You Should Do’s tracks carry listeners from heartbreak to carefree happiness and everything in between. The band recently announced the September 9 US release date via Brooklyn based Kanine Records as well as the September 8 UK release date on Fortuna Pop! In addition, The Fader has shared the joyous first single Young along with full album details.
Flowers was brought together by Sam’s Gumtree advert which stated: “In search of a singer to make music like Madonna through a broken tape machine.” He went through many auditions before finding Rachel. But shortly after meeting Rachel, Sam re-enlisted college mate Jordan for drums and the three moved into together. They practised daily in their living room, recording through the night, barely sleeping with the excitement of it all and soon amassed a huge collection of over a hundred demos. Posting some of the results of their feverish recording online quickly resulted in a European tour with the Pains of Being Pure at Heart with more shows following, including support for Young Marble Giants in London and a trip to NYC for 2013’s Popfest. Flowers’ live performances draw a line between the joyous fuzzpop of The Pains and the minimalist brilliance of Young Marble Giants and the reception at shows was nothing less than rapturous with audiences blown away by their intensity.
It was clear Flowers needed a producer to help them capture the emotion and beauty of their live show. The search led them to the door of Bernard Butler whose track record, love of the Cocteau Twins and the Gibson ES-355 guitar that Sam also plays marked him as the perfect choice. And so Flowers’ very first foray into a proper recording studio was a Butler’s 355 Studio – a daunting prospect for a young band, softened by Butler’s sensitive production and access to his collection of beautiful analogue synths and Vox organ. Band and producer worked in harmony to produce a set of songs much cleaner and clearer sounding than anything they had recorded before, dispensing with the “wall of sound” that characterised their home recordings and providing the clarity to allow the songs to breathe.
Across these fourteen songs, as Rachel said: “We were young writing this album (we still are I think), so all the songs reflect the emotions of being young, covering the extremes of: loneliness, happiness, rejection, love, torment, excitement.” For every song about the carefree, halcyon days of youth (Young, Forget The Fall), there is another about the pain of relationships (Drag Me Down, Lonely). The album closes with a run of three exquisite numbers; Be With You which the band stated is: “…a song of reassurance, about knowing that everything will get better somehow, because it can’t not”, Plastic Jane which the band stated is “…about someone who wears a facade with nothing underneath” and the aforementioned live show closer, Stuck.
Most of the songs weigh in at less than three minutes, a deliberate strategy for a band that seeks strength in simplicity. “Our songs tend to be quite short – if there’s something that doesn’t need to be there, we take it out. Hoping for just the best bits,” explained Rachel. On influences, “We love all kinds of things, Ramones, Madonna, The Misfits, Iggy & The Stooges, Joy Division, all sorts. The album doesn’t sound too much like any of those but the songs are short and simple pop songs and all those artists we love write songs like that.”
Indeed, Flowers’ genius is in their ability to convey a remarkable amount of emotion with minimal instrumentation. Rachel possesses one of those beautiful pop voices to die for with echoes of Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins), Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star) and Harriet Wheeler (The Sundays) while Sam’s guitars chime and churn with an incredible intensity and Jordan’s drums rip right through with urgency and precision, resulting in a beautiful album that conjures up a strange and entrancing sort of magic. Haunting, mesmerising and intense, Do What You Want To, It’s What You Should Do is an impressive calling card from a sensational new band.