St. Pancras Old Church reminds me of the chapel that is attached to my friend Joe’s house. How his family came into possession of said house with a chapel is too long a tale to detail here. Suffice it to say that they somehow inherited it from someone. We had seriously iniquitous Halloween parties there, including one in which I fell asleep using a water pipe as a pillow while dressed as The Dude, but regardless it always retained the scent of a church: incense and guilt. London based trio Flowers‘ mournful, vulnerable and yet sometimes powerful indie/shoegaze pop is ideal for such an environment on this the launch of their debut album Do What You Want To, It’s What You Should Do.
Brighton four piece The Hundredth Anniversary provide support for the occasion. Their jangle pop is sweet and pretty and yet there is a sense of dread throughout that culminates in the two final numbers of their set. The penultimate track, which I believe is called “Golden”, consists of a simple strummed guitar complimented by a lilting and lone female voice while the final track expands on their typical sound with peaks and troughs, stops and starts through valleys of more expansive guitar and drums than had preceded them.
Who could fail to be enamoured with Flowers? From the shoegaze pop of opener “Be With You” their abundant strengths are pushed to the fore. Guitarist Sam Ayers’ switches from sweet indie/jangle pop to a denser shoegaze sound without neglecting melody, drummer Jordan’s pounds out unadorned but always engaging and inventive beats, while the absolutely spellbinding Rachel Kenedy alternates between clutching her bass guitar and herself while drawing the whole enterprise together with her delicate and precise vocals.
Like fine china, her voice is so fragile that it seems that if the audience don’t listen carefully it will break. Duly, the crowd sit in silence and listen intently particularly during the band’s more restrained offerings. Endearingly, instead of facing the crowd, Ayers faces Kenedy while he wrestles his guitar as if he is playing solely for or to her and unaware of the crowds presence.
As headliners the trio seemed imbued with a new found confidence that wasn’t as apparent during their afternoon set at Shack The Shacklewell II early last month but they’re entitled to be on a high. Do What You Want… lead single “Young” gets a huge reception with it’s tender melodies and it’s gently plucked echoing guitar. It’s the sound of a defined, distilled Flowers and is perhaps the closest thing to a hit the young London band have in their oeuvre
Immediately prior to “Young” there is even time for some electropop. The most remarkable aspect of which is when the synths die away leaving only Kenedy’s voice a capella. Hauntingly note perfect her alto gently echoes through the church like a hymn. Its theme of the hopefulness of youth is at odds with the pious, archaic surroundings.
Things are drawn to a conclusion with album closer “Stuck”. A sparse piece, just Kenedy and a one string bass line. Ayers sits on the floor to watch the performance seemingly still enthralled by Kenedy’s delicate and lilting voice. As the song fades and the eager clapping crescendos there is little doubt that the rest of us would be just as happy to be stuck with Flowers for another while yet.