Florist’s The Birds Outside Sang is the first of what will be many releases this year from the Brooklyn collective known as The Epoch. All of the projects contained within — Eskimeaux, Told Slant, Bellows, Small Wonder, Sharpless — diverge sonically, but are united in their emotional bareness, their tendency to come out and say what needs to be said rather than dance around their feelings. “I don’t talk a lot in riddles,” Emily Sprague said when we profiled Florist for a Band To Watch feature last year. “I’m mostly thinking about stuff that sounds beautiful. If you imagine what a phrase looks like — if it looks beautiful — that’s usually what I’m trying to do. Then I match it with whatever sounds are happening, so you get a full picture. And it’s not just a feeling, but also sort of an image that you can’t see.”
That writing methodology resulted in the evocative set of songs on The Birds Outside Sang, Florist’s debut full-length. Written while Sprague was recovering from a bicycle accident that left her unable to play music for a time, the record is presented in pretty much chronological order, each song a stepping stone in the healing process. “Dark Light,” the opening track, sounds insular and closed-off — Sprague hopes feeling returns to her hand, that she gets back what she lost.
The record gently unpeels track-by-track from there; the instrumentation noticeably opens up, the rest of the band becomes more involved. There’s a turning point in the spoken word on “Thank You,” a breakthrough of sorts: “This beautiful thing happens every day,” Sprague observes over a warbled, high-pitched key. “It’s called the sun, it’s called my blood, and it’s the only thing making us want to be alive. I’m really grateful for the people I’ve met, but that won’t make me die any less.” That last line borders between a gift and a curse; a realization that the time we have is limited, and an encouragement to make the most of that time that we can.
From there, a collectivist spirit begins to take hold. On “1914,” Sprague is reborn into many different eras, but remembers that “you were born right next to me.” The title track builds up to an invitation: “Do you and your friends want to come come into the field and watch the fireworks shoot up into the air?” Fireworks, that untamed ignition of sparkles and fire, feel like an apt visual accompaniment to Florist’s music — the intangible but dazzling magic takes hold with each impeccably laid-out note.
Sprague confronts the way our bodies can be both prisons and a source of support; how our childhood needs to be recontextualized from the viewpoint of an adult; the reasons we keep going on and how we get there. “I don’t know why I survived… Maybe it’s because sometimes I’d have rather died. ” she remarks on the closing track. “I guess it’s just because I survived.” The plainness of that sentiment speaks to life’s driving force — we don’t know why things happen. They just do. We have to roll with whatever comes next, and hopefully find something worth holding onto among life’s many challenges.
Listen via Hypem below.
The Birds Outside Sang is out 1/29 via Double Double Whammy.