Heya gang, we just caught Zoee’s ‘The Empty Glass’ and realised we missed giving her debut album Flaw Flower any coverage, our bad! So all gull-wing and flux capacitor, we’re hitting 88mph to make things right. Thought the nostalgia would fit nicely with the overall theme of the album’s warm low/hi-fi beats. While the videos for Flaw Flower mainly employ student film and community theatre aspects, and the album art flirts dangerously close to Sofia Copolla’s Marie Antoinette, the music does not rely on tactics. Quite the contrary actually, it’s stripped down to its strongest components.
Zoe[e] (@__z_o_e_e__) writes, composes and sings on her debut album. Some people learn to walk before they run, not in this case. At a full trot, you’ll come across a righteous joint that’s pleasant to listen to from start to finish, toggling throughout between spoken and sung lyrics like on ‘Host’ and ‘Fountain’. We’ve always found the inner turned outer monologue appealing. The appeal of Flaw Flower has deeper roots however.
This album is a grower, not a shower. Over time, while on repeat, the album blooms. Not just growing on you but revealing itself petal by petal. Although it’s an easy listening debut album on the surface, with each play Zoee’s lyrical and composition strengths push through. ‘Fountain’ and ‘No Great Ending’ are great examples. Anyone who enjoys spending time in the kitchen will tell you, a good recipe is one with few ingredients, but to always use quality. ‘No Great Ending’ is a perfect example and leans in to set the tone for the majority of the album, an approachable conversation compiled alongside demo beats like on an old Sega scroller. Stripped back tremolo-solos over these 8-bit beats, coupled with a steady rhythm guitar, in our opinion shows confidence in decision making, rather than lack in ability.
“I’ve always sought validation from men, a distraction, a desire a motivation. Realizations can be crystallized, maybe this is normal when you think how complicated normal can be”, accented and woven throughout ‘Fountain’, a sax chimes in drawing your attention to the aforementioned lyrics. Though the song’s unobtrusive, hints are dotted like breadcrumbs throughout. Thus, you can see the development and selection of its core elements crystallizing before you, lyrics like pregnant goodbye, together with refracted visuals in windows, stimulate vivid imagery of leaving an erstwhile lover.
The tonal changes aren’t only musical but reflect the mood of the album and its pacing. ‘The Empty Glass’ and ‘False God’ (which in our opinion should’ve rounded off the album) both share unique structure; they ask you to pause with them. They’re like a catch-up with a friend on the way to dinner, sometimes the stories just got to pause, so you can pet a cute dog or two along the way, and I’m sure they’ll hold that table. The tracks are also slow, not in a bad way but, more in an opening with a country twangy guitar way, but feel longer and are lyric heavy. Zoee has a unique voice a-la-helium pixie sounds but it’s not so niche that she teeters on the brink like Deerhoof’s Satomi Matsuzaki. What made our minds up to make ‘False God’ the final track, in the end, was the chorused voices in the last leg. It felt like slipping into the great beyond while being beckoned in by the light. Very avant-garde and theatrical, like a Fellini film.
It’s a charming little ditty, especially for a debut album spanning 11 tracks, where to our tastes nine are truly solid and sings of Zoee’s versatility as a performer and composer. If you like what you’ve read chuck the album a spin, but we don’t wanna put words in your mouth (ears), we’ll leave it to the pros. Cue Zoee.