For all of June of 2019, amid a hot and rainy summer, 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) convened in a rented house in the Hudson Valley, to live and work together. They set up their gear on the screened-in front porch, which looked out onto a canopy of trees, allowing the sounds of nature to play a leading role throughout. Then, they experimented. The production and recording of the album directly reflects the organic ways in which the band worked that month, with whispering voices, crickets, rain and birds accenting the aleatoric quality of the instrumentation, each player drawing from the communal energy of the woods and their interpersonal bonds. The result is 19 tracks that feel like the culmination of a decade-long journey, their fourth full-length album, but the first deserving of a self-titled designation.
“It’s a portrait of who we are as collaborators, as really long term friends and as extended family as well,” leader Emily Sprague says of her band’s new self-titled album. “Florist” is also the strongest album of the band’s decade-long career, an immersive work that conveys the magic of the earth and of family, and the whole of the band’s heart. Poignant, guitar-centric meditation “Red Bird Pt. 2 (Morning)” carries on Sprague’s concern with love, loss and the natural world. “She’s in the birdsong/She won’t be gone,” she sings of her late mother, proffering a merciful sense of resolve. “Feathers” finds her facing her fears over threads of bowed guitar while “Dandelion” meditates on the beauty of our finite existence, pairing synth and fingerpicking with the spirit of Emily Dickinson. “Sci Fi Silence” occupies a liminal space between soul baring confession and contemplative new age, a swirl of analog synth that culminates in a full-band meditation. “You’re not what I have, but what I love,” the band sings over and again until the words grow into a kind of mantra, a thing that at once pierces and heals.