Turning singing into just another hue in a smeared instrumental palette – and burying vocals to the point of obscurity – is a divisive hallmark of shoegaze. Not so with Melbourne quartet Flyying Colours, who newly emphasise lyrics on their second album while still paying robust tribute to the reality-bending subgenre.
Several refrains across ‘Fantasy Country’ even unfold like hopeful incantations, starting with the album’s very first line on ‘Goodtimes’: “I just wanna have a good time / I don’t wanna waste my whole life.” Echoed by guitarist/vocalist Gemma O’Connor, songwriter/frontman Brodie J Brümmer goes on to muse about the simple wonder of getting out in the sunshine among blue skies and singing birds – almost like a yoga sun salutation, but in song form.
‘White Knuckles’ later follows suit with an opening mantra (“White knuckles / eyes open”) that evokes the self-actualising “Gotta be above it” chant heralding Tame Impala’s 2012 album ‘Lonerism’. There’s a dark side to voicing these inner monologues though: sung primarily by O’Connor at a hypnotic lilt, ‘OK’ references taking pills to combat everyday malaise before slipping into the cynical, if somewhat freeing, refrains “Throw it all away” and “Never gonna get it.”
‘Fantasy Country’ isn’t a downer, though. Brighter and more upbeat than Flyying Colours’ 2016 debut ‘Mindfullness’, this album showcases splashy jangle and effects-streaked melodies at every turn, with clearer vocals and a wider range of sound than ever before. And it’s often quite joyous, from the New Order-meets-‘Dancing In The Dark’ vibes of ‘It’s Real’ to the rhythmic keyboard stabs punctuating the closing ‘Boarding Pass’.
Even as the mood shifts dramatically from song to song, which suits the striking contrasts in the music itself: see the apparent relationship study ‘Big Mess’, which is simultaneously so poppy and so noisy while proceeding at a thrilling gallop. Brümmer’s pillow-soft vocals evoke the early shoegaze days of cult US band Lilys, yet there’s a tangible push-pull between harshness and sweetness that also summons both Dinosaur Jr. and twee-leaning Sarah Records bands.
Musically, these syrupy sermons are all about movement and layers, with bassist Melanie Barbaro and drummer Andy Lloyd-Russell crafting entrancing grooves beneath the spacious dream-pop vistas. Jamming out more on ‘White Knuckles’ (the longest song on the record), the band explore the overlap between driving Krautrock, dank ’60s psychedelia and danceable Madchester. These are pop songs made swirling and almost hallucinogenic, yet always quite controlled.
While ‘Mindfullness’ was a promising flex of Flyying Colours’ deeply studied shoegaze credentials – ticking all the right boxes, but not sounding quite like their own band yet – ‘Fantasy Country’ turns that dense, heightened mode of delivery to more heartfelt and relatable songwriting. Not only can we hear the words, but their meaning is magnified and enriched by the oversaturated swath of sounds. These songs promise realisation and release – only if you’re willing to surrender your sense of direction a bit along the way.
- Release date: February 26
- Record label: Club AC30/Poison City Records