If you’ve been reading this site in the past couple months, you know we’ve been pretty pumped about Flasher’s debut Constant Image. The DC post-punk trio — made up of Taylor Mulitz, Daniel Saperstein, and Emma Baker — originally appeared on our Best New Bands Of 2016 list, but even then I’m not sure if we could’ve known just how great their first official album was going to turn out to be. They teased Constant Image with three singles — “Skim Milk,” “Pressure,” and “Who’s Got Time?” — all of which ranked as some of our favorite songs in their respective weeks.
Since then, we also sent Gabriela Tully Claymore down to DC to get the backstory on the LP and how the band’s hometown has shaped them. And now, Constant Image is our reigning Album Of The Week while also ranking all the way up at #4 on our list of the best albums of 2018 so far.
That was a lot to summarize. Which brings me to my point: We’ve been really excited about this album. And you should be, too. Because it is fucking great.
The individual members of Flasher have their roots in punk, and are nominally a post-punk band. The latter is definitely the overarching aesthetic of Constant Image, but it’s easy to hear a lot of other things colliding. Their post-punk is not of the downcast brooding iteration, but the B52s’ vivid bursts. You can hear strains of classic indie, and of new wave’s sheen, too, but to me the thing that stuck out is that Constant Image is reminiscent of Britpop’s spikier corners — Supergrass’ catchy snarl, Blur’s more breakneck moments, but especially the brash Elastica.
All of this comes together into an album that is stacked with hooks — overloaded with them, almost. Constant Image is an infectious, effervescent collection, rushing by in just over 30 minutes and leaving you with the kind of high where you immediately go back to track one, immediately return for another hit. It’s one of the most gratifying, assured debut albums in recent memory.
You already know the singles. Those are all high points. But all of Constant Image is on a similar level, with some songs that rival the addictiveness of the tracks that have already been out there. It’s full of tiny flourishes, details that are subtle but make each song play like a perfect balance of expertly calibrated guitar breaks and synth flickers. There’s the light echo on the sing-speak-then-yelp verse vocals of “Punching Up” giving way to an almost-shoegaze chorus. There’s the saxophone accompaniment adding an extra layer to closer “Business Unusual.” There’s the fact that you can picture people gleefully shouting “Burning trash in the next life!” back at the band amidst the singalong wave of a melody that runs through “XYZ.”
These songs will get stuck in your head constantly. Every time you think you know the full spectrum of a track’s tricks, it twists again: One of the best compositions here is “Material,” which goes through about three different highly memorable sections before, all the sudden, there’s one more refrain they throw at you in its outro. Maybe the album’s best track, or at least its most unshakeable, is “Who’s Got Time?”; the whole thing is an earworm, but its peak might be when the instrumentation drops out from under Saperstein after the second chorus of so they can bark one of the song’s snappiest lyrics above a synth whine before the rest of the band crashes back in. Almost the entire thing is percussive — the knotty rhythms but exploding choruses, the overlapping but rapid-fire vocals. The whole thing is a technicolor, endorphin-rush interpretation of post-punk.
But, look, you don’t need me to tell you this anymore. You can hear the whole thing for yourself now. And I’d recommend blocking out the rest of your Friday: If you’re anything like me, you’ll listen to Constant Image for the first time the whole way through, and you’ll listen to it five more times in a row right afterwards. Check it out below.
Constant Image is out now via Domino.