Arts & Reviews

Ben’s Music Reviews- The Birds Outside Sang

By Ben Mulick

Rating: good stuff/10

“Florist is the friendship project that was born in the Catskill Mountains,” reads the petit biographical blurb aside the pixelated calming bedroom scenery of the cover of The Birds Outside Sang on the band’s bandcamp page. Florist, Emily Sprague’s musical group, is a part of a New York based DIY art collective known as “The Epoch” or sometimes “The Epoch is Now.” They are a tight group of friends who grew up together, playing in each other’s bands and making art together. Prague is accompanied by friends Felix Walworth on drums, notably from the band Told Slant, Rick Spataro, and Jonnie Baker, both multi instrumentalists for the LP. The stylistic approach of Florist’s music is lackadaisical yet emotionally intricate, aimed at self reflection. An intriguing juxtaposition occurs between the pure and calming airiness of tone and the almost heart stomping personal tales Sprague develops. The stories unfold with cascades of the most tranquil hues of the most serene colors to comprise the miraculous enterprise that is The Birds Outside Sang.

The delicacy that graces the listener’s ears from this release is youthful and reposeful. Often times it is like listening to the entity of light itself. Nostalgic motifs shine through with lines such as “If there is one thing I believe/ it’s that the wind can make you a child again” from “Rings Grow”. Texture and layering of synths and midi organ support the melancholy and emotion feel of the album. Timid instrumentation present in “A Hospital + Crucifix Made Of Plastic” illustrates to the listener a physically pained past yet a painless present, for there is no pain felt for Sprague, who is weightless and only bone. Quiet pieces both sung and spoken with quivering descriptions of landscapes and gender dysphoria continue on in the album. The title track in C major, envisions day and night; it precedes the closing tracks which focus on solo guitar chord picking. “Cold Lakes/Quiet Dreams,” my personal favorite, is a classic Florist anthem, painting a picture of forest canopies while also entailing desire and loneliness with a seemingly gorgeous melodic power. Transcendental themes are prevalent on the next track “1914,” which has the verse:

“A bed of flowers, stacks of wood, and a note a farewell letter from 100 years ago/ ‘please remember to feed the cat, please remember that I’m never coming back’/ I was born in 1994, I was born in the 70s, I was born in 1823, and you were born right next to me.”

The recurring natural details wrap up the album with the closing two tracks; the singer masterfully uses their lyrics to question life through the autobiographical lens. “Only a Prayer, Nothing More” talks about their last thoughts on age and time, and then fades out ever so carefully.

The Birds Outside Sang could not have been a more pertinent title for the collection of disconsolate melodies and harmonies Florist creates. Emily Sprague retells the impacts of their life with passion and a universal outlook. The pristine recollections don’t lack in specifics; the vocals are delicately melodic and sharp; the lyrics are profound; the instrumentation is varied and doesn’t lack intuition; the emotion is raw and provokes existential thought processes; and the whole general concepts are intertwined with robust and immaculate precision. It is not, however, for everyone. Particularly, someone who wants more musical drive and completion might not find satisfaction in the band’s approach.

Sprague leaves a note for the listener at the end for a chance for them to see the experience through their eyes:

The Birds Outside Sang is an album about the speed at which rain falls, life goes on, and people grow. It’s one part a personal, autobiographical, and almost completely chronological telling of a time in my life full of confusion, physical + emotional pain, loneliness, and hope. It is another part a rebirth of a musical friendship between my best friends in the whole world, and an attempt to highlight the importance of love and the things in life that give you something special to hold on to, to find a calm that can carry you through being alive and being scared.

“Thank you for listening. My one and only goal is that someone can listen to this album and feel/see something, and take it with them as a thought.”