Sound Check: Sing Fang’s Flowers
BY MYKEL VERNON-SEMBACH —
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
Just in time for the bitter cold spring semester, Iceland introduces yet another lush artist: Sin Fang. While his work in music entertainment is not groundbreaking — beginning with the band Seabear in the early 2000s and his solo project-turned-group, Sin Fang Bous — his latest project might just be the embodiment of the phrase “the third time’s the charm.” While quite similar to the ambient dream pop sans Icelandic gibberish of Sigur Rós, Sin Fang takes this post-rock concept, whips it up with some catchy Top 40 beats and English lyrics to create his latest album, Flowers.
This album opens with “Young Boys,” using lyrics as both as a vessel of communication and a musical instrument, looping and repeating verses to illicit melodic chaos. The initial lyrics set the scene for listeners with the line: “We were young boys / Smoking in the woods / I showed you how / I showed you how.” If this song was put in Google terms, the tags would be angst, pubescent, adolescence and probably self-esteem. Fortunately, this is what Sin Fang had in mind. In a press release from German independent music label, Morr Music, Sin Fang explains his inspiration came from the thoughts and feelings often experienced in ten-fold as a teenager – mainly love and rejection.
The grandiose instrumentation bound with synthetic rhythms are continuous through Flowers, into “What’s Wrong With Your Eyes” — a guaranteed single for the album — and “Look At The Light,” where the instruments are layered like the petals of spring blossoms, growing steadily into full bloom with one minute left. Though the production value within this album is grand, Sin Fang makes it sound natural, like watching the industrial sounds of humanity somehow come together into a hybrid organ, living and breathing.
“Sunbeam,” Flowers‘ fourth track, is truly the audible translation of late winter sunshine warming the wind-burned cheeks of fresh youthful lovers; the child-like “woah-ohs” are like the melodic hum of daydreaming and contentment. The organic foundations of “Feel See” incorporate echoing vocals, handclaps and dominant strings recall the beginnings of Jónsi — another Sigur Rós spinoff — while “See Ribs” is eerily similar to Bombay Bicycle Club with unrefined guitar, definitive bass and heavy use of percussion instruments. Flowers closes with “Weird Heart.” This track is a perfect closer, the kind of track heard in the last call scene of some pitiful rom-com starring Ryan Gosling or Zooey Deschanel.
This album does a good job of evenly splitting the album between gentle, sweet melodies and pulsating, rhythmic road trip anthems. While their drumming patterns remain closely related or exact copies of previous tracks, Sin Fang finds a way to make each song different from one another. Sin Fang does what Sigur Rós has done for a decade, yet becomes an innovative musician simply by singing in English. Really, the producer for Flowers was indeed Jónsi’s significant other, Alex Somers, so it is hard to not make it sound like Sigur Rós. Or maybe that’s how nature truly sounds in Iceland. Maybe that’s why they’re so happy in all those Nordic countries, because going outdoors sounds like nature vomiting a symphony. Until then, Flowers is the closest the U.S. population can get to achieving complete arctic nirvana.
Best Tracks: “Young Boys” and “Sunbeam”