The Florists: No Costume
by Paul Whyte
Whenever I run out of Twin Ports or Northland bands to review, I have to start expanding my horizons. Naturally, the first place I look is to the Twin Cities. More specifically, what bands from the Twin Cities make the trip up here on their own dime to play shows for anyone who cares. The Florists have popped up on my radar from shows specifically at the newer venue Blush in downtown Duluth. On Friday they will be playing a show with Venus DeMars as the headliner, once again playing at Blush.
The band has released a couple of EPs, a 2016 release titled “Can You Feel The Stasis,” and the 2017 release, “No Costume.” The band consists of Jo Kellen, Jared Hemming, and Luke Michaels. I decided to listen to “Stasis” first. The six track album bounces around in that hard to describe alt/indie/post-punk vein. They have a sound that could go well with most bands that play original rock. They float through the dynamics of soft and loud at times with interesting melodic parts mixed in with the rock. I’m not going to call it pop because there’s enough edge to it and other things going on that sets it safely beyond that, although there is something certainly accessible with it.
The album “No Costume” is just four tracks and opens with the track “Thanks Again.” It should be noted that the band identifies as queer, I’m not sure it that’s the entire three piece, but there’s a message that carries that tone in this song. “First associations, gender enervation/I’m tired but I’ll throw you a smile,” goes a line in the first verse. “Cuz you can’t box me up and call me your girl/Cant tie me into bodies/xerox zines and copies/Formalize me into your world.” The refrain goes “I just keep on dancin’, just keep on dancin’.” There’s the feeling that who ever has approached the person in this song has got them wrong, and while there is some malaise over the interaction, they’re going to brush it off and enjoy themselves.
Likewise, the track “Joey, You’re a Dream” also speaks to someone who isn’t getting the lyricist right, “I’m not a doll/I’m not your phase/Fuck you/I’m not a costume.” The song has an older school punk feel to it. It’s short and sweet.
I think my favorite track is the last track “(I’m Gonna Kill That) Blue Haired Kid.” I like it because I really get the feel that it’s written about a specific actual experience. I like the groovy somewhat off beat nature that reminds me of Cake or maybe Primus. “Calm down, Kevin, it’s fine/This rude boy fuckface is mine/Hold my wine I’m gonna shine his eyes kindly….Kill him (kill him).” The song is about a sketchy encounter at a party where someone, presumably a blue haired kid, broke the singer’s friend’s window and a physical altercation is about to ensue. I can’t say I’ve never seen something like that happen. The story telling of an obviously drunken ordeal where things get maybe a little out of hand makes the song interesting if not kind of real.
I guess I’m at a part of trying to describe this band where I make some comparisons. They’re close to maybe bands like Dead Milkman in how they’re kind of punk and close to bands like Ween where there’s some weirdness and unconventional things happening with the guitars and effects and the general way the songs are delivered. The Florists do definitely have their own thing going on that picks up a lot of things that seem familiar, but they twist it all together in their own way. I’d imagine it’s a fun band to watch live even though I haven’t made it out to see them yet in the few times they’ve made it up.