A buzz has been building around the music of Flowers And Sea Creatures for some time now – ever since they speculatively sent an email to Ben Watt containing an instrumental track. Once again it looks as if his instincts to sign them up were spot on, as the music the Montreal duo make is by turns serene, melancholy and beautiful.
There is a near perfect blend here between songwriting sensibilities and club chic – the latter achieved by pure instinct rather than anything contrived. Deep house is the label you could level at much of the music but there are elements of techno here too and, at times, the smoky production of 1990s Bristol becomes apparent as the ever more compelling web is spun.
What really sticks in the memory, however, is Graham Baxter’s voice, which has a striking clarity that is both unusual and instantly recognisable. He doesn’t sing with particular volume, nor are there high notes or a falsetto, but the timbre is so pure that it brings an uncommonly intense set of emotions to the music.
The lyrics and their execution are largely introverted, but are beautifully wrought. The cold lyrics in The Sitting Room make you want to wrap up warm, where Baxter sings of “summer talks that slowly slip in to the hands of winter’s grip”. The nocturnal A.M., given here in a Ewan Pearson re-edit, is a very classy blend of house, given just the right injection of pace. There are hooks here too, and Baxter harmonises his own vocal when repeating the nagging refrain, “Do you remember?” in At Night, the effect at once nostalgic and compelling.
Flowers And Sea Creatures are far from an easy listen, though, as there is an emotional balancing act maintained here. The production team of Ewan Pearson, Fred Everything and The Revenge bring just the right blend of introspection and energy, often walking a tightrope between the two. The latter is provided by some surprisingly rigorous and sure footed four to the floor beats, with a few hinds of a more acidic synthesizer.
Yet while the production is easy to admire it all comes back to the voice of Baxter, an instrument that speaks with emotion of loves won and lost, and perhaps even those just about to be found. It all leads to a strange feeling of euphoria, the feeling that we’ve been let in on some very private musings, some secrets that are impossible to ignore.
As such the Flowers And Sea Creatures debut is a rare jewel – something intensely personal to be savoured in private moments, but also a record whose shine is bright enough to carry to a wider audience.