Flavor Crystals: On Plastic
Do you ever wake up with a song in your head and wonder where it came from? It happens to me all the time. We all play DJ to the nighttime soap opera of our sweet dreams. Here's a scenario I see in my sleep: The city is receiving its first snowfall and I'm outside a rock club, bumming a cigarette. Its embers are a bitch to keep lit beneath the dewy flakes. From inside, I hear the faintest chime of guitar and shrug of a voice forming something like melody. Maybe the soundman is playing a down-tempo rocker from Sonic Youth's Murray Street. Anyway, that cigarette is as good as garbage, and I'm urged back to consciousness with a lithe "Wake up, wake up." That goose-down voice belongs to Flavor Crystals' Josh Richardson, who opens the candied psych ballad "Checker Board" on the Minneapolis quartet's debut. Even without the slo-mo snowdrifts and midnight lights, Flavor Crystals rely heavily on atmosphere; unfortunately they're not much for scene building. When Richardson announces a Dadaist shopping list ("Topsy/turvy/free-form/swervy") midway through "Poolja," his words seem merely objects, chosen for their sounds, à la Gertrude Stein's "Rose is a rose is a rose." In that case, these daydream believers have chosen the right patrons in Thurston and Donovan. The former's hypnotic drones surface in "Poblano" and "Sheep," while Flavor Crystals impressively turn the latter's dippy ditty "Sand and Foam," with its lyrical "tattooed trees" and "valley of Scorpio," into a straightforward rock ballad without much noodling. The guitarists' whisper-light reverberations wouldn't knock a beer off the bass cabinet, but could manage more than a somnambulist sway from the audience. Listless jams "Square Bales" and "Underwater Art" have little direction and end up extra fat on what could be an excellent EP. Free association is a province of the unconscious, but it doesn't quite translate on Plastic. Sooner or later, it's time to wake up.
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