“I haven’t left this room in 14 days,” goes the important thing line in Floral Tattoo’s hottest music to this point. “14 Days” was additionally probably the most uplifting music on the Seattle band’s 2018 debut, Approaching Bearable, which ought to offer you an concept of its total emotional tenor. At the least frontperson Alex Anderson was keen to entertain the potential of breaking free from the suggestions loop—the one the place the one aid from reminiscences of childhood bullying, the confusion of gender transition, and a demoralizing job at McDonald’s (“Dying by Minimal Wage”) was filling up a journal with unflinchingly depressing lyrics. “I wanna write songs that evoke emotions of journey! I need to write songs that make you need to fall in love!” Anderson cried, whereas their diaristic lyrics underscored a refined, purposeful perception that they themselves have been too far gone for any of that.
Two years later, Anderson and co-songwriter Gwen Energy are nonetheless caught of their residences, false nostalgia, or dead-end service gigs, however Floral Tattoo’s revelation of a second album goes locations: a Minneapolis punk flophouse full of Twin/Tone vinyl, a university radio station in Eighties Boston or Athens, an mp3 weblog in 2008, a five-band Philly gig in 2009 capped by a 10-minute Snowing set. They name their work “music for unhappy trans individuals who grew up on the daybreak of the digital age,” however You Can By no means Have a Lengthy Sufficient Head Begin is keen to conceive of actual moments of happiness, albeit solely attainable off the grid. The album opens with “(foreward),” a manifesto for queer revolution, and twice invokes Julius and Ethel Rosenberg as anti-capitalist antiheroes, Floral Tattoo’s personal Bonnie and Clyde. “She” is each bit as exclamatory as a Los Campesinos!/Against Me! hybrid ought to be, whereas the surging acoustic strums of “Leaving” evoke the Cure singles that counterbalanced their monolithic despair with fleeting exuberance. Likewise, as quickly we catch a glimpse of Energy and Anderson laughing and whooping over the potential of ditching their possessions and dwelling in a bus headed nowhere, they observe it with a one-minute burst of folk-punk nihilism referred to as “Don’t Attempt Issues.”
In a much less fraught second, this conceptual scope and post-emo shape-shifting might need resulted in one thing alongside the traces of Harmlessness or Goodness, albums whose utopian aspirations can really feel sadly naive in gentle of Floral Tattoo’s 2020 actuality. They’re a band with massive concepts, coloring their feel-bad rainbow with bells, spoken phrase, melodica, euphonium, and an interpolation of Black Sabbath’s “Battle Pigs.” However they’re nonetheless recording of their condo, and the lo-fi manufacturing that covers every part in a gritty, grey vapor takes on metaphorical heft. With a much bigger price range, “Oar Home” might’ve absolutely actualized a majestic rising tide of Pacific Northwest dreamo. However would that actually serve a music that commiserates about cleansing bathrooms? The pixelated distortion of “Oar Home” offers it a correctly sickly pallor, as if staring via stifled tears on the Puget Sound or driving a shitty automotive to work with a hangover.
It will be good to say that Anderson and Energy have transmuted their substantial and justifiable anguish into transcendance, and whereas You Can By no means Get Too A lot of a Head Begin is already one of many 12 months’s first word-of-mouth successes, it’d be a misinform name it a triumph. “The Artwork of Transferring On” and “(my life fell aside this 12 months)” finish the album with a rousing, shitfaced salvo of no-fi pub-punk, a uncommon occasion of contemporary emo that aspires extra to The Airing of Grievances than The Monitor. However Floral Tattoo are by no means refined, and the titles say all of it: If this sounds euphoric, it’s the euphoria of really hitting backside, of discovering freedom within the data that issues can solely get higher as a result of they will’t get any worse.