Notes Blooming

flor’s pop is mellow yet energetic

flor’s new album ley lines showcases numerous styles of pop.
flor’s new album ley lines showcases numerous styles of pop.
Oregon pop band flor turns introspection into anthems. Their sophomore album, ley lines, which released September 2019, pushes forward like 12 lush declarations, all while maintaining a danceable base. The four-piece band consists of a typical rock structure, but their music is greatly expanded thanks to multiple electronic elements.

"On this new album, we put a lot of emphasis on what we wanted to reflect in the music as a band, rather than just what I was feeling at the time," said lead vocalist Zach Grace. "come out, you're hiding. was a really personal experience, where it was kind of me venting to Dylan, our producer and bass player, and then taking those ideas to Kyle and McKinley as a band. ley lines was much less me venting, and more of a collaborative effort to make an album that reflected everyone and where we wanted to see the band grow, and different styles we wanted to experiment with."

The Fueled By Ramen record label published both of flor's studio albums, and flor fits snugly into the greater alternative realm of their labelmates: Paramore, Fun., Panic! At the Disco and The Front Bottoms, among others.

Whereas their first album come out, you're hiding. features a melodic blend of electronically laced pop songs, their newer ley lines includes a more diverse track listing accentuated by various production techniques. Take the singles "hold on" from their first album and "slow motion" from their second. "hold on" is a sweet, romantic pop song with airy vocals and a subtly stumbling rhythm. "slow motion," on the other hand, works with a more diverse sound palette, including punchy drums, a groovy core, and several production techniques including echoes, glitches and shifting instrumental layers.

According to Grace, this change is the result of bassist and producer Dylan Bauld developing his studio style and "perfecting his craft."

"I don't want to bog people down with misery, but I'm also a deeply emotional person," Grace said. "So I wanted to find a marriage for 'let's be emotional, let's be vulnerable' but also 'let's be hopeful.' So I guess it's a kind of hopeful introspection, is the best way to identify what I'm going for."

Overall, ley lines fixes many of the flaws of its predecessor with variation in individual songs and across the entire album. The instruments fuse together with precision, the tempos jump around while still maintaining a dream-like quality, the atmospheres are less cloying, and the entire album works with an interesting blend of energy and softness.

"Mellow but energetic is just what you get when you put me, a kind of mellow and relaxed individual, with Dylan, who knows how to really pull out the excitement and energy out of a track, which maybe didn't even exist prior to his hands being involved," Grace said. "Basically, he takes my sleepy introspection and makes it palatable."

Grace described drums and production during first album's development as a bit wild, with drummer Kyle Hill having a somewhat difficult time translating their ideas on the computer into a live show. But with this latest album, the band was more restrained and better understood the development process.

"I think [Kyle] has a lot of fun. I know he takes like two weeks trying to piece together the puzzle of what we make in the demos," Grace said. "He always comes to rehearsal and we're blown away with what he's done with the songs and how he's managed to keep the energy and really nail it."

Beyond their music, flor has always focused on maintaining a strong visual aesthetic—most notably, every album and song title being entirely lowercase. But beyond capitalization, their music videos, album covers and website design features striking and vivid imagery. Grace described himself as a big fan of album art, and wanted to ensure flor's own album covers did their music justice.

"It's always been important to me to tie music together with visuals," Grace said. "We try really hard to represent our world through the visual art element... Anything you can do to bring people more in line with your vision and your world as a musician makes it so much easier to connect with and fall in love with."

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