Sunday, 27 January 2013

Sin Fang - Flowers

You may remember my review of Sin Fang's 2012 Half Dreams EP. Likewise, you may remember my review of the lead single from Half Dreams, "Only Eyes". Some may remember Sin Fang's (Sindri Már Sigfússon) background with his debut album Clangour under the moniker Sin Fang Bous and his sophomore album Summer Echoes. We compared Sin Fang to Sufjan Stevens. The indie folk / indie pop nature of Sin Fang's work brings back memories of the multi-instrumental masterpiece that is Illinois. If you're new to MRD or new to Sin Fang, then you may not have known this, but you may know of his side project. I say side project but technically Sin Fang is the side project. Iceland's very own indie folk outfit Seabear have Sindri Már Sigfússon as leader of the pack. So on the back of three successful Seabear albums; a debut album that crossed the sea in all directions and a back catalogue of growing material, Sin Fang is finally out in the open and on his feet.

"We were young boys smoking in the woods, I showed you how, I showed you how," sings Sindri on the opening track "YoungBoys". It introduces the listeners to his indie pop aesthetics, keeping all things strictly pop oriented and lyrically English. There's a deep synthesized bass that controls the track from five seconds onwards. You can hear the multi-instrumentalist at his best on this track, with many clanks and bangs and odd-ball sounds put together to create the atmosphere you're most likely to find on a Parachutes record. Flowers comes across as a powerful album at times. The pop tracks never hit what you would consider a mainstream patter, and for that I thank Sin Fang for keeping his project close to his heart. "What's Wrong With Your Eyes" is the strongest and also the loudest track on the album. There's a magnificent piano-like synthesizer which is supported by yet another deep synthesized bass pattern. 

"Look At The Light" stands out as single material. Sin Fang has a strong falsetto vocal, utilising his vocal range over the course of this track. He hits the high notes on the chorus as the reverb surrounds Sin Fang's vocal. This is a track with musical breaks, silence, industrial percussion and all the soft effects Wild Nothing could think of. Likewise, "Feel See" has several moments of distorted industrial moments and reverb / delay effects on the vocals. Quite precariously, this track also features strings and moments of silence in the track. 

These two don't however, compare to the bubbly "Sunbeam". After a synthesizer introduction, the track picks up with drumming and hard bass. Sin Fang has all the vocal ability to make "Sunbeam" his best track on Flowers. There's a lovely musical section from 55 seconds to 1:07. He sings: "And then when I'm older, I'll let you stand on my shoulders," with such conviction and attitude. It's as if Sin Fang has put on an accent to sing this lyric, it sounds fresh and matches with the rhythm immensely well.

Flowers doesn't sound like any of Sin Fang's earlier work. The lo-fi styles of Clangour have been replaced by this facade of effects and pop patterns. "See Ribs" has a heavy electric guitar running through it, "Catcher" sounds like an LCD Soundsystem tribute act performing to a class of children and "Everything Alright" has the musical connotations of Electric Light Orchestra mixed with Panda Bear. Although "Not Enough" returns to his Half Dreams EP style of track, with fast paced percussion and light instrumentation. This track, more than the others, has a weaker character and standing because of its musical progressions. It's as if we've heard this style of track before, and we have, all over Flowers

Sin Fang has a tendency to sound like Jónsi Þór Birgisson's solo project Go on more than one occasion. The same baroque pop aesthetics have been replicated on Flowers, and this isn't a bad thing, it just sounds like an option between Jonsi and Sin Fang as to which one is the better pop album. And that is awful of me to say, but both of these albums are incredibly similar, just Jonsi has a better falsetto and better orchestral arrangements. "Weird Heart" is the final track on Flowers, and it does sound like a final track. Sin Fang's vocal sounds like it's improved since Half Dreams, there's a new dimension in his voice. His voice generally changes from accents, vocal ranges and emotion throughout this album and the second half of "Weird Heart" really shows off his different vocal style to say, "Only Eyes". Yeah, Sin Fang has improved as an artist and continues to build a huge repertoire of releases with a huge blend of genres. Flowers starts incredibly well, however it fades away as you start to notice similar progressions.