One might expect some kind of fey folk frippery from a person (Ella O’Connor Williams) who calls herself Squirrel Flower, but this is pretty decent.
Squirrel’s got a deeper voice than might be predicted and a fair few of the songs are decently beefy, the guitar playing sturdy in the vein of Dinosaur Jr, albeit slightly generic. (For fans of obscure bands who never got famous, it’s a bit like Algernon Cadwallader). It’s never memorable but is a solidly entertaining listen.
Opener I-80 starts as per preconceptions but the electric guitar and the rest of the band build the sound towards an expected crescendo that never arrives; the opening lyrics are “I tried to be lyrical / But lyrics failed me” so maybe that’s intentional, the music failing too. The first single, Red Shoulder follows, and is one of the standouts, more decent guitar. Slapback is sturdy acoustic rock blues.
Obviously Squirrel Flower does have a “hippy chick singing meaningful dirges” gene, but she mostly manages to avoid this; Eight Hours is atmospheric and Streetlight Blues a bit Rilo Kiley, but Belly Of The City is overly earnest while Seasonal Affective Disorder never really goes anywhere. Honey Oh Honey! is a bit Marmite, the vocals saccharine, although the drummer gives the cymbals and snare a work-out for the song’s 1min 13secs: basically it’s a long chorus. The title track closes, perhaps deliberately echoing the opener to bookend the album.
Criticisms: at first listen it’s a bit unvarying in tone and sound and, despite the fact it’s often just voice and guitar, it never feels intimate or spontaneous. On the other hand it’s nicely atmospheric, one of those albums you can play and enjoy.
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