Night Flowers seem to be one of the hardest working indie pop bands running at the moment. A glance at their Bandcamp discography reveals no less than twelve releases over the last six years as well as tours across Europe and Japan supporting indie heavyweights like Japanese Breakfast and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart. While the London quintet, fronted by the Boston born Sophie Pettit no doubt has the work ethic to succeed, they give the impression they’re having a great time doing it. It’s an impression that’s helped by a pensive looking clown on the cover of their newest album Fortune Teller. Boasting the thick guitar sound reminiscent of ‘90s Britpop mixed with elements of dreampop and girl / boy vocals, Night Flowers has perfected the art of the catchy indie single in the 21st century.
Album opener “Night Trains” kicks off with muted guitars sounding like an approaching locomotive and arrives with with all the force of its namesake. From there the song turns into a duet between Sophia and guitarist Greg recalling classic Fleetwood Mac at times down to its scorching guitar solo. A similar vibe reaches across to “Lotta Love” in its swaggering groove and chiming guitar. Night Flowers explore dynamics and their newfound retro style here pushing their sound in new directions. One of the album’s highlights is sure to be “Merry-Go-Round” with its call and response verses and singalong chorus likening the ups and downs of love to the circular carnival ride. In less than two and half minutes Night Flowers reminds you their specialty lies in sugary pop songs like this. “Perfect Storm” contrasts that with an intimate acoustic duet that has all the presence of a live coffee shop performance. It’s a refreshing change of pace both in its melancholic demeanor and minimalist production that adds to the depth of Fortune Teller.
The album’s title track brings the album to a climax on the back of its ringing guitar and Sophia’s yearning vocals. The meaning behind its lyrics may be cryptic, but the song’s layers of harmonies and melodically rich hooks are hard to deny. “Carry On” rides a giant guitar hook for much of the song and combined with some creative drumming made me double check I hadn’t put on a Pearl Jam song at first. Any notion of that is quickly dispelled when Sophia‘s vocals come in imploring us to accept what life has in store and “let the world carry on“. The album’s penultimate track sounds like it was written as a set closer and gives the impression that Night Flowers‘ prolific touring experience is starting go make itself felt in the the studio. “I Loved You (Such A Long Time)” takes its time building momentum before unleashing its euphoric refrain that begs an audience to sing along. Finale “No Come Down” despite its protestations, certainly sounds like a come down from the heights of its predecessors. Hazy vocals and shifting backwards guitars shape a serenely atmospheric end to Fortune Teller.
At this point in their career it makes sense for Night Flowers to evolve and while they still may be finding their feet in places, Fortune Teller for the most part succeeds. In the process the band delivers one of their most stylistically varied albums to date without ever alienating fans of their brand of guitar heavy indie pop.
Highlights: Merry-Go-Round, Fortune Teller, Love You (Such A Long Time)
For Fans Of: Pains of Being Pure At Heart, Beverlys, Star Tropics, Ghost Hotel