Sin Fang - Flowers
You may know already Sindri Már Sigfússon as the lead singer of Seabear; but the Icelandic musician is also Sin Fang, solo artist. Flowers is Sigfússon's third album as Sin Fang, and it would seem that 'third time's a charm' couldn't be a more appropriate idiom. Although Sigfússon started out as a tentative musician, it is probably this uncertainty that developed a unique methodology in his approach to music. The result is that now, Flowers is a record that exudes a certain confidence and power that can only be the result of experimentation and a determined creativity.
With the hovering Northern Lights, rare wildlife and extraordinary landscapes, Iceland evokes an atmosphere of wonder and mysticism, auroral beauty and vision, an ideal place to cultivate your art. So it is perhaps by being surrounded – and possibly inspired – by such delights that Sigfússon's signature unification of folk/pop and psychedelia has become more vibrant than ever. But rather than going for a complete change of direction,Flowers retains the 'layering' aesthetic present on his previous records – with synths, guitars, drums and vocals resonating within and above each other – and yet this sound is far richer, more textured, pristine.
Fragile 'ooh's and the echoing rattle of a tambourine launches 'Young Boys', a wisely chosen opener as it sheds light on what you can expect throughout the rest of the album. It shifts and fluctuates between percussion, now strings, Sigfússon's vocals at the forefront, now masked beneath choral harmonies. The effect of these varied tones of voice and instrumentation is nevertheless surprising; although it inevitably creates something broad and extensive, everything has been so carefully considered that it flits and flows with the ease of a river downstream – and sounds just as comforting. The transition into 'What's Wrong With Your Eyes' is effortless and seamless, gradually rattling to life as woozy synths grind beneath Sigfússon's soaring vocals and ending with a classic orchestral string melody.
On 'Look At The Light', timidly harmonised vocals swaying melodically as a persistent drum beat drones beneath, whereas 'Sunbeam' flutters with an animated urgency, driven forward by resonating rhythms. Shimmering violins open 'Feel See', an exceptionally sentimental track whose whispers create a feeling of intimacy, while the echoing drums, strings and synths create a feeling of cautious detachment, a delicacy felt through the deliberate restraint. 'See Ribs' and 'Not Enough' are more buoyant than the rest of the album; with swift guitar riffs and rough pulsating drums, their erratic tempos lend a certain indie-rock danceablity to the otherwise reserved tracklist. As synths waver and hesitate, 'Weird Heart' erupts with a somewhat disjointed arrangement, bringing the album to a close.
Lyrically, Sin Fang's songs have always been melodic, logical narratives rather than fragmented streams of ideas that simply 'sound nice' when sung over a piece of music; thematically, then, Flowers examines the feelings associated with unreciprocated love, which explains the feeling of poetical tenderness throughout. Each song is distorted in some way – be it by masking Sigfússon's vocals or disguising particular instruments beneath others – but everything is also layered with purpose and proportioned systematically, to create a delightful haze of complexity, an unexpected cross between classical string arrangements, guitars, and psychedelic synths. Flowers is definitely an appropriate album title; the record is as vivid, appealing, and varied as the species that inspired it.