Pop fans rejoice! Language of Flowers' debut album is out now. "Songs About You," a brilliant collection of infectious pop hits harkens back to the golden era when Sarah and Subway Records reigned supreme. The album features 11 tracks of perfectly jangly guitars, weightless melodies, and Tara Simpson's bright, airy vocals.
If you love classic indiepop, this album will never leave your side. "If It's Not You" mixes the best moments of Heavenly and The Primitives, while "Tara Mascara" blends angst-y vocals over Smiths-esque guitars. "Where You Belong" and "She's Gone Away" continue the upbeat mood with dancey melodies and delightful guitar riffs. Meanwhile, "Leaving" and "I Don't Care At All" show a more tender side showcasing Tara's heartfelt vocals. And just when you think you have Language of Flowers figured out, they surprise you with "Christmas" -- a lush synth pop song reminiscent of early Trembling Blue Stars.
Language of Flowers have played with the likes of The Butterflies of Love, Pipas, Camera Obscura and even Heavenly -- and now you can hear for yourself why they're Belfast's most hidden gem.
Praise for Language of Flowers:
"I know, I know. This is awfully late in coming, and I have the lack of a stereo for months to blame. It came out right at my cut off point but it could have been considered for (and in) the top ten list of last year, but owing to the fact I am only getting to it now it will be in consideration this year. So what more need be said by this point? This Irish band has been cutting wakes with it's own prowess, with a brilliant sound somewhere between the Cranberries and a mix of C86 girl led bands from the Primitives to Lush especially. I think lead singer Tara Simpson has a great voice and on some falsettos she does sound a bit like Miki Berenyi from Lush. This is especially true on the track Tara Mascara where the whole affair, music and all, sounds exactly like Lush at it's best from the unique arrangement to the chorus which seems to come right from Lushs playbook. My kid as well has been hooked on this band since I put the song If It's Not You on a disc for the car, and she has to hear the track repeated until even I get tired of it. (and I am no slouch at repeating a track) It kills me that the masses worry over asinine programs like American Idol when bands like this exist. You want to worship someone? You want an album of brilliant chords, catchy melodies all teamed to a great voice? Turn the damn TV off, buy this album and drop to your knees and give thanks for salvation has arrived. Without question one of the years best, and that's a weighty proclamation to make 2 weeks into the new year. Just superb in every way, from it's infectious chords, great melodies and imaginative lyrics. " - Indiepop Spinzone "Why on earth would someone criticize a band for creating music that's so clearly constructed for the sole purpose of making the listener feel good? Ireland's Language of Flowers are indie popsters of the highest order, hell bent on rotting your teeth with tunes sweetened beyond reproach. Songs About You is shaved to its lean necessities, using drums, guitars and female vocals in their basest functions, all to serve the singular goal of adding more pop to the rock. No one has reinvented the wheel here, but the wheel is probably as good as it's ever gonna get, right?
Singer Tara Simpson may not have the strongest voice in Ireland. Her approach is breathy and thin. However, there's an adorable vulnerability to Simpson's airy vocal attack that makes her infectious melodies stick in your gut long after the CD player has gone cold. On "If It's Not You", Simpson opens the song accompanied only by a simple drumbeat. These, too, find themselves so deep in the pocket during the opening verse that by the time the guitars fill in the middle with their jangly Smiths-style strumming, it sounds fuller than it probably should. "She's Gone Away" is another upbeat tune; this one is impossibly catchy and filled with far too many good vibes. Its simplicity and sense of possibility will make you want to go back to your senior prom. "Leaving" and "Summer's Been and Gone" break up the tempos with a slower, more introspective approach, and "Tara Mascara" finds Language of Flowers at the most experimental; they touch upon some vocal layering that might be considered psychedelic if it were on a different album. Song About You is unapologetically danceable and fun. For every Mars Volta album in your collection -- or for any album on your shelf that's full of impossible rhythms and ten minute songs of epic musical confusion -- you should own one Language of Flowers CD. This one." Splendid "The year is coming to its close and you could probably care less about what it has meant for me, but one thing you ought to pay heed to is the decidedly outstanding album of the year - especially if you're into the British tradition of classic indiepop. If you're one of those nostalgic anoraks who stubbornly clutch your priceless seven-inches from Sarah, muttering that never again will there be such Perfect Bands, you should think again. The last couple of years have seen several bands that are every way as divine as The Sea Urchins and The Field Mice. Camera Obscura, The Pines and The Clientele all deserve to be worshipped and held tight in childish embraces on nights when nothing else seems beautiful. And this year Belfast has given us Language of Flowers.
Not having had a proper release before, they completely knocked me off my feet this October, when American Shelflife issued their debut album. I had only heard one song, a couple of months earlier and I was at least hoping they'd be back with more stuff some day. That one, called Tara Mascara, is a shoegazy track, and before I was told who it was I actually thought it might be Emma Anderson of Lush. So when I months later picked Songs About You out of my mail box I was taken aback for a bit. The surprise was a very pleasant one though.
So why then is it the best record of the year? Well, just imagine my thoughts as I put it on the stereo. The sound coming out the speakers was the perfect alloy of The Primitives, Lush and gossamer Sarah Records pop. It wasn't shoegaze - it was Pop! There were no effects on either bass or drums and the guitars had that tauntingly familiar sound that makes you think of every guitar band that you like from Razorcuts to Brighter... and that voice! The singer Tara Simpson more than justifies her not playing any instrument except the tambourine. She doesn't have the purring cat voice of Isobel Campbell, the elegant quiver of Pam Berry, nor the affectionate sarcasm of Tracyanne Campbell (Camera Obscura). She reminds one more of the innocent coolness of Tracey Tracey (The Primitives) or the airy and wintery vocals of the Emma and Miki from Lush. I listen intently to every word she sings, cherishing every sound. What's more, Tara's voice blends perfectly with the admirable guitar work of Marc McCourt and Ashton Cameron, shifting between gentle ringing lines and jangly cascades of distortion.
The songs are all about Boys: boys who have left, boys that are missed and boys that are NOT missed particularly. And the songs are what this record is all about. Soaring melodies and lyrics that will make you cry and smile. You'll get more than your share of up-beat numbers that make your legs twitch. If It's Not You, with its wall of guitars and unbelievable chorus, will especially threaten to leave your bedroom in ruins. But the song that really strikes a chord with me is Botanic Gardens. One of those Perfect songs, it gives you a taste of heaven for 3 minutes and 46 seconds. Maybe a look at the lyrics will convince you?
Here comes the boy I like, he never looks at me He's with that stupid girl, with the stupid clothes and the stupid hair If I could talk to him I'd say I love him so...
Im going to make him mine, going to tell him that he's only boy for me I'll take him to a place that I know, a place that I love to go I'll take him to Botanic Gardens
There are also the heartfelt and touching slow numbers, of course. The best example is I Don't Care At All where Tara sings "I don't care who you're seeing, don't think I think I care for you at all" and that she's happy on her own. But the way she sings it gives you the impression, perhaps unintentionally, that it's just a tough surface and underneath maybe she's not so sure about it at all. Before mentioned Tara Mascara stands out lyrically as well. It's about marrying the right man, just to get that catchy surname that will leave your friends knee-deep in jealousy - thus the title. On the last track, Christmas, the lyrics are rather obscured and the song is in fact a long venture into electronic pop, which Language of Flowers manages with their pride completely unscathed. It's a very good electro song actually and doesn't seem out of place. Especially not when you consider the bonus track. Yes, there is one and it usually means it's either just for fun or that it's a track that the band doesn't want on the real album. Here, it's probably the latter. It is a discoish thing with what sounds like cheesy Casio synthesizers. It's still an inch better than title track though. And Songs About You, in turn, only seems less fantastic because of the amazing company it is in.
So if this record is not already in your possession, it deserves its own pedestal in your home. Listen to it and marvel at the fact that the world, however horrid, can still turn out these little masterpieces." - Krister Bladh (Le Manchester) "Once again I should have been raving about this months ago. God knows it was spinning on the stereo enough, was accompanying me on many Sunday morning vacuuming sessions courtesy of my trusty and scratched iPod (and you have no idea how long I prevaricated over actually typing those four letters after reading an end of year review in some newspaper at my parents and seeing it name dropped innumerable times. It was kind of sickening). But yeah, Language Of Flowers. I admit that when I first slung this on I was sceptical as all hell. More breathy girly vocals dreaming of Amelia Fletcher, over an indiepowerpopping racket of ramshackle guitars and drums made from cake tinsÉ 'don't you people have any imagination?' wailed my grumpy old man persona. Thankfully, however, I then recalled how such things never made Tiger Trap any less delicious, and the soul of my popkid self promptly delivered a sound kicking to the aforementioned grumpy old git. Or as sound a kicking as a fey popkid can ever administer.
Songs About You is a glorious dedication at the altar of Pop, is an album utterly in thrall to the very essence of what it means to be young (at heart) and tripping over yourself as you rush headlong into the wall of sounds that mean the world. It's a gloriously self-knowing record too, in all the most natural and contradictorily na•ve of ways, full of songs that celebrate all the joys of Pop creation and consumption. It's the sound of Pop besotted with itself, the sound of Pop delighted to be in its own company and not staring off somewhere into the distance, dreaming of what it might be if it ever grew up (the answer to which, of course, is too dreary to even contemplate). Language Of Flowers are sitting under cornflower skies and feeling the breath of promised dreams brush your cheek. Language of Flowers are the tingle of crushed petals, the wonder of plastecine noses passing in corridors, the delicate rush of a heart cracking at the sight of a smile from another century." - Tangents "This is delicious female fronted indie-pop. It's so sweet at catchy that it's almost impossible not to like. It starts out with delicious guitar-work sounding not too unlike The Edge from U2 and from there they come up with one nifty song after another. Overall I'd say this is sort of a mix of U2, The Smiths and Sixpence None The Richer. You get the idea right? So, it's not much sense in going on then? " - Past & Present "In the 70's, Belfast came bursting into the music scene with a great help from the marvellous Good Vibrations label, who released some of the best punk singles of all time from bands such as the Undertones and Protex.
Since then, there haven't been a lot of great bands from the capital of Northern Ireland, but times are changing! Well, at least there is one good band now. Language Of Flowers have been around since the early years of this century, and after some changes in the line-up, they have now recorded their first album, which has been released on the US-based Shelflife label. The label compares them to Heavenly, and I have to say that that's the most accurate comparison for a long time!
The second song here, 'If It's Not You", sounds a lot like 'C is the Heavenly Option' from Heavenly's second album. All in all the whole album in fact sounds a lot like Amelia Fletcher and her bandmates.
There are three exceptions though - 'Tara Mascara', which musically sounds just like the Smiths. I even think I can recognise a certain song in there somewhere, but at this moment I am completely blank. Anyone? The last two tracks on this CD are quite different too, with 'December' being an instrumental, slow synthesizer-based song, not unlike the Trembling Blue Stars, and 'Goalhanger', which is an unlisted bonus song that's also mostly synthesizer-based, sounding like a disco hit for the indiepop scene. If you like your indiepop to sound like the old female-fronted Sarah Records band, then this is the album for you!" - Tommy Gunnarsson (Penny Black Music) "The indie kids, especially the ones who have lost their heart to the legendary girl groups such as Heavenly or Talulah Gosh, have found a new favourite group. I red a lot of praises months before the album was even out and based on the sound samples on Shelflife's it was easy to make a decision to buy it as soon as it was out. And yes, It was definitely worth it. They've really captured some of that same magic that made Heavenly so great. And Tara Simpson's voice sound occasionally so similar that you may need to check out that did you really put Songs About You to your cd player or are you actually listening to Heavenly vs. Satan. It's quite a pop heaven. But the ending just doesn't quite fit in. Surely there's not much wrong with that six minute long synthpop tune called 'Christmas', except it's on a wrong record. Or maybe I'm just trying to find something to whine about, because they don't leave much chance for that with that incredible ten song indie hit galore before that. Hard to think that someone who loves classic indie pop wouldn't love this." - One Chord "Hummingbird fans, take heed! There may be a bit of fuzz to this band's sound, but Tara Simpson's lead vocals and the band's penchant for jangly guitars begs comparison to the 80s band from down under. "Who You're With" is a chiming track that will compete for "Song Of The Month" honors this month. "She's Gone Away," "Summer's Been And Gone" and "Botanic Gardens" aren't too far behind." - Eric Sorensen (Fufkin) "The first thing you should do if you ever come across this album is to skip directly to the fifth song and wait for three minutes and three seconds. By the end of that period of time two things should have happened: one, you should have fallen in love with Language of Flowers; two, you should have a pretty clear idea of what 'Songs about you' is about.
"Getting over you was the hardest thing I ever had to do" sings Tara Simpson at the beggining of said song ('Who you're with), just so that you can tell straight away: this is the sort of record where a girl sings about boys and broken hearts. And if that description brings back memories of Amelia Fletcher (or Amanda Andervall or Mary Wyer) that make your eyes moist with tears and your heart beat faster, and you somehow happen not to own a copy of 'Songs about you', do yourself a favour: stop reading now and go out and buy it. This will make 2004 for a better year for you.
If, however, you are too young or too cool or too silly, or just too something for this sort of thing to happen to you, you may keep reading, though you have been warned: I will try to convince you to do the same thing in the long run anyway. Because a certain Heavenly-charm isn't the only thing there is to Language of Flowers: there are bouncy songs and catchy lyrics and cool guitars reminiscent of a time when both me and the band were too young. There are words about grey skies (or maybe just the feeling about them) and things to dream of and about things you love and things you lost, and about those things that are yet to be loved (and won or lost.) And there's a certain style too: a half-innocent, half-cool way of being in a band, a way of saying "this is who we are, we sort of hope you like it."
And then there's my favourite thing about Language of Flowers too: a sort of underlying energy, a half-hidden excitment packed in and behind the songs and the way they are played which shows itself only through repeated listening of 'Songs about you.' It makes each listening a little bit better than the previous one (but only a little, so that you can play it again and again); it catches up on you like an echo when you least expect it and has you bouncing and/or singing along to 'If it's not you' or swooning and/or laughing at 'Tara Mascara' ("I'm only waiting on a lover with a catchy surname/ It just takes patience and an ear for what sounds right") when you thought you had hardly noticed them. It's the sort of thing that, coupled with a certain poetic-ness in the way these songs have been concinved and materialised (or with the trumpet in 'Songs about you') can have you sighing and smiling at the same time.
Really, a rightly-placed trumpet can break my heart on any given day, but even so, believe me when I say: 'Songs about you' is something to have and to hold." - Dimitra Daisy (Friends Of The Heroes) "The debut album is the point where those initial songs honed through gigs are given a chance to make a real lasting impression. On this showing, they've been gigging A LOT as this is just superbly crafted upbeat indie-pop tunage with attention to detail. The production lifts the Smiths-like guitars and the understatedness of lyrics and vocals (like yer Heavenly's and so on) even further skywards. So yeah, this could have come straight outta the mid-80's, but that was a better era than perople give it credit for, and this is a charming take on the spirit of the Sarah hey-day. Cute without being sickly, and uplifting while keeping its own feet on the ground, and all topped off with the preening electro-pop of "Christmas". Don we now our fey apparel." - Skif (Vanity Project) "Belfast's answer to Belle & Sebastian - The Language Of Flowers might just be one of the biggest hidden gems of the local indie scene. 'Songs About You' is unmitigated indiepop propelled forward by Tara Simpson's sweet and rather naïve vocals, accompanied by Marc McCourt, Colm McCrory and Ashton Cameron's Smiths-style guitar work.
What is great about this album is the references to familiar landmarks around Belfast. 'Summer's Been And Gone' narrates kissing boys on the steps of St Anne's Cathedral, while 'Botanic Gardens' is a luscious and golden pop melody. 'Tara Mascara' is by all accounts the peak of the album - jangly guitars compliment Tara's lyrics beautifully, a slightly darker and excellently produced song makes this a real standout track. Maybe this is the way forward for the band. But 'Christmas' - unlike any other track showcases Language Of Flowers' electronic element. Not too dissimilar to the sound of Ladytron, this atmospheric song showcases the bands versatility well.
Language Of Flowers could be written off as too twee for most, but the fact that they've built up a loyal fan base all over the world dispels such a notion. I'd have to say that at times the album is slightly too innocent for my taste but 'Songs About You' contains some killer tracks that point to a bright future for the band. Come on Tara Mascara, let's hear some darker tunes. " - Andy Martin (Alternative Ulster magazine) "Sie gelten als Belfasts am strengsten gehütetes Geheimnis. Dabei sollte man der Welt dieses Popjuwel auf keinen Fall vorenthalten. Allein schon Tara Simpsons Gesang, der an die frühen Cranberries oder an Camera Obscura, mit denen man schon gemeinsam tourte, erinnert, rechtfertigt den Kauf dieses Albums. Im Hintergrund entlocken die beiden Gitarristen Marc McCourt und Ashton Cameron ihren Geräten brillante Riffs, die in Richtung Smiths und Trembling Blue Stars schielen. Zusammen mit nicht weniger großartig geratenen Melodien gehen die 11 Songs plus Bonustrack runter wie öl, für ein Debütalbum erscheint mir das eigentlich viel zu gut. Besonders angestrengt haben sich die Blumensachverständigen bei den herausragenden Titeln "Where You Belong", "Who You're With" und "If It's Not You". - Toni (Brit Pop Arsenal) "Någon kommer kanske ihåg artikeln om Language of Flowers som publicerades här i februari. Då hade jag endast hört den makalösa låten "Tara Mascara" och fick via mail reda på vilka som låg bakom det hela. Grunden till Belfastgruppen visade sig faktiskt ha lagts för drygt 10 år och de var, hör och häpna, förband till Heavenly 1992. Sedan splittrades de, men återuppstod igen för något år sedan.
Nu har eminenta Shelflife äntligen släppt deras debutalbum "Songs About You". "Klassisk indiepop" skriver skivbolaget i pressreleasen och det är ord att ta fasta på. Just nämnda Heavenly är lättillgänglig att ta upp som referens - janglegitarrerna och sången, ja hela bandet, ekar engelskt 80- och 90-tal och Sarah Records. I låtar som "If It's Not You", "She's Gone Away" och "Botanic Gardens" märks det tydligt vad det lyssnats på hemma hos irländarna. Men samtidigt finns något eget och nytt som gör det hela till en underbar blandning. Texterna är genomtänka och pojke-flicka-temat som ofta dyker upp känns här inte alls tjatigt och utslitet.
"I Don't Care At All" är en vacker och, till en början, mer nedtonad historia med fin Field Mice-känsla. Med endast en akustisk gitarr i kompet lyfts Tara Simpsons underbara sångröst fram i ljuset ordentligt. Sedan hoppar man till när hela bandet plötsligt slår igång och en duett mellan Tara och Colm McCrory tar form. Magiskt. Den gamla mp3-hiten "Tara Mascara" finns såklart med i låtlistan. Här går The Smiths igen i gitarrerfigurerna och låtens slut är väldigt stämningsfullt med otaliga sångpålägg och ett reverb djupt som havet. Samtidigt är låtens text är full av humor:
"I'm only waiting on a lover with a catchy surname. It just takes patience and an ear for what sounds right. You've got to plan put your future with the utmost detail. I'm making sure that his last name works with mine". I avslutande "Christmas" visar plötsligt LoF upp en ny sida där synthar bildar frontlinje och sången bara sveper förbi i panorerade ekon.
Klassisk indiepop i fin förpackning är vad det handlar om. Vid det här laget har kanske en del tröttnat på sånt, men jag kapitulerar fullständigt för "Songs About You". Köp skivan!
If It's Not You
Skivan kan köpas hos Popkonst, eller beställas från Shelflifes hemsida. Language of Flowers hemsida hittar ni här.
Läs även min intervju med bandet!
preening electro-pop of "Christmas." Don we now our fey apparel." - Markus Bergström-Björn (Common Paper) "Stel je Amelia Fletcher, zij van onder meer Heavenly en Talulah Gosh, voor als ze een lichte verkoudheid heeft, maar toch gewoon doorgaat met zingen. Een hese stem die steeds over dreigt te slaan, maar dat toch nooit echt doet. Zo klinkt Tara Simpson, zangeres van het Noord-Ierse Language Of Flowers, dat met Songs About You haar debuut heeft uitgebracht. Als er trofeeën bestonden voor verslavend mooie stemmen (weet je, als je er belooft niets seksistisch bij te denken, noem het dan maar gewoon 'geil') dan moest heel Belfast fungeren als Tara's prijzenkast. Zelfs als Language Of Flowers gabbermetal zou maken was ik nog steeds hartstikke verliefd op dit album geworden. En dan nu het leuke: Language Of Flowers maakt ook nog eens hele fijne muziek. Buitengewoon prettige schoolmeisjesindiepop die evenveel weg heeft van C86 vroeger (Heavenly, Darling Buds) als van andere Shelflife-bands tegenwoordig (The Arrogants, Evening Lights) en die op haar beurt ook zonder Tara's zang mijn ruime goedkeuring zou hebben verkregen. En als bonus eindigt het album dan ook nog eens met twee mooie elektronische droompopsongs. Een mooier lente-album kun je je deze herfst niet wensen." - Martijn Grooten (Think Small)
Language Of Flowers
Songs About You
Catalogue number: LIFE051
Artwork by: Marie McCrory
and David Cameron
1. Where You Belong
2. If It's Not You
3. Songs About You
5. Who You're With
6. She's Gone Away
7. Summer's Been And Gone
8. Botanic Gardens
9. I Don't Care At All
10. Tara Mascara (mp3)
12. Goalhanger (bonus) ON THE WEB:
www.geocities.com/languageofflowers PRESS DOWNLOADS:
Cover art hi-res