Flock of Dimes – Head of Roses
Baltimore-born, Durham-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jenn Wasner has been involved in a large number of projects that have come to define 2000s and 2010s indie rock, first with the duo Wye Oak, and later a performing member with Bon Iver and Dirty Projectors. As a solo artist, Wasner goes by Flock of Dimes, and her second full-length outing, Head of Roses, is a triumphant signifier of professional and personal growth.
Showcasing her expansive range, Head of Roses is ostensibly an exploration of heartbreak. That may sound simple enough to some, but Wasner’s textured, otherworldly sounds mirror the complexities inherent to ending – and forging – relationships. Not only are the compositions rich and engaging, but Wasner’s sonic manipulations and crisp production (partially thanks to Nick Sanborn of Sylvan Esso, who co-produced) come together seamlessly.
Multitudes are certainly at the forefront of the upbeat lead single “Two”, which looks at how we reconcile personal autonomy with seeking intimacy. Later, on the yearning “One More Hour”, Wasner explores how much easier it is to get lost in fantasies about the past and future rather than face down reality in the present.
As an artist, Wasner inhabits infinite dimensions – both philosophically and as a composer. Though it encompasses a whole galaxy of observations and sonic structures, ultimately Head of Roses is worth getting lost in. RB
The Snuts – WL
You can’t reinvent the wheel, but you can roll it in a different direction. So goes the ethos of Glasgow guitar band The Snuts, who look like your typical rock lads but prove, on their debut album WL, that they’re much more adventurous than many of their peers.
Some songs, like “Glasgow”, do fall into the more signature tropes of Scottish rock: soaring choruses, rousing guitar solos, anthemic melodies. Others slyly co-opt pop melodies for maximum chart appeal: the slinky “Elephants” is straight out of the Maroon 5 playbook.
In between, there are great Arctic Monkeys references on “All Your Friends”, in the menacing electric guitar twang, sly bassline and frontman Jack Cochrane’s drawling delivery. Earlier on, his gravelly burr is tempered by an elegant string section on “Top Deck”. “Maybe California” throws in some Beach Boys croons, ahead of the foot-stomping “Coffee & Cigarettes”.
The album feels baggy in places, leaving you wondering if they’re trying too hard to tick every box. But most of the risks the band take pay off. A very promising debut. ROC