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Double Double Whammy
Lo-fi indie pop darlings Florist, or as the band puts simply, “a friendship project that was born in the Catskill Mountains” create beautiful music therapy. In their sophomore full length album If Blue Could Be Happiness, Emily Sprague’s lyrics serve as a reassuring voice that doesn’t shy away from the harshness of the world such as “Being alive is not singing alone/or looking outside of the window into the darkness of it all“ as heard in the album’s opening track “Blue Mountain Road”. Such an impact can only be made with help from the entirety of the friendship project between Sprague, Rick Spatsro, and Jonnie Baker. Together they pair Sprague’s intimate lyrics with beautiful comforting chords that made me feel strangely both alone and yet safely looked after, even if from eyes as far away as the Catskill Mountains.
Sprague sings in a language of colors and nature that you can’t help but be moved by and of course try and dissect. As the title suggests there is a theme of “blueness” consistently throughout the album that is often paired with shades of light and dark found notably in the slow building sound spectrum “Thank You Light” wherein Sprague candidly states “the blue that always takes me home/the light I lose that loves me even though/I bring the dark when I can’t feel that I am warm/and I look inside to see that there’s nothing more”. The safe haven away from the uncontrollable forces of dark and light that Sprague seems to find is the melancholic blue feeling the entire album preaches. I of course don’t mean melancholic as simply sad and gloomy, quite the opposite. There is a peace of mind felt when one accepts suffering, grief, loss, etc. more as natural and comfortable feelings than a woeful punishment. At times If Blue Could Be Happiness to me is like a how-to guide in which you can “track” Sprague and company’s acceptance of their fate, life without innocence but not without desire, to still understand and be understood. This is cultivated in the beautiful title track’s chorus “if blue could be happiness/ then that’s all I want”
That being said, for me the most powerful sentiment brought forth was Sprague’s relationship with their mother, first alluded to in the most forward sounding tracks on the album, “Glowing Brightly”. Between the groovy guitar riffs and rhythmic downbeat of the snare, Sprague reflects upon their mom’s presence “mom I love you, I still hear your voice inside my sleep / next time you see me I’ll be glowing brightly / outside with the birds in the middle of the yard”. The album’s final track “Red Bird” is a heart wrenching yet prudent ballad written to Sprague’s mother, who unexpectedly passed away one day after the recording. Sprague’s wistful voice gives us yet another nostalgic sound vision; “a mother’s only daughter in the red of the earth / tell the bluejays “come inside” / you love to watch them, now so do I” if only to crack the hull of the tear ducts before leaving us with “but the sunrise always came / and it sometimes made you happy / and if I was afraid / you told me not to be / but were you afraid? // I understand the birds now that I’ve learned some things / yeah I think”. Beautiful as it is raw, the final track was kept in its original demo form, exactly how it’s inspirator last heard it.
I liken If Blue Could Be Happiness to a lot of different experiences. It is a wonderful self reflection on your childhood adolescence, it’s also a thought provoking gospel on how we, as humans, grow up but our minds so often stay with our childhood . It’s something to lay on your couch and let your ears read like a musical book. It’s something to cause you pause and take in the world around you whilst you ride your bike (wherein I spent a good portion of my time with the album). It could be a guiding light or just something to tell you “you’re not alone in this” as you experience life changes involved with becoming an adult. It’s a thought experiment on living a life of melancholy and how above all else, that’s ok.
If Blue Could Be Happiness comes out today Friday, September 29th on Double Double Whammy. Florist is currently on tour with Pinegrove and Lomelda in support of the album.