Posts Tagged ‘Constant Image’

Flasher-Constant-Image

All three members of Flasher, the great young indie rock band, are lifelong habitués of Washington DC and its environs. They know this landscape. They know Rock Creek Park and summer Fort Reno afternoons and those few spots in the infamous 9:30 Club balcony where you can sit down and still kind of see what’s happening onstage. They are current cogs in the DC machine, restaurant workers who haven’t been able to quit their day jobs even after becoming Arctic Monkeys’ labelmates. (All three of them have worked at Comet Ping Pong, the Northwest eatery where some of the most bizarre undercurrents of DC life recently collided in hallucinatory and violent ways.) If they stay in DC, maybe they’ll never quit their day jobs, no matter how successful their band becomes. They seem to know this. And Constant Image, their full-length debut, feels like an ode to the torpor and inertia of present-day young urban service-industry life. It is an album rife with fatalism, with blank-faced acceptance.

“Go,” the album’s buzzing headrush of an opening track, is all about snorting coke with coworkers after getting done with a long shift — or, at least, that’s what I hear in it. (Flasher’s lyrics are oblique enough that they could imply a lot of different things.) Other moments on the album are full of dazed, intense little epigraphs: “Laughter in this century is a misery afterglow,” “It’s not like I had a reason for leaving you / Thinking I could fix it if it wasn’t for Adderall,” “History, how’d you get so mean? / Who’d you beat?” These aren’t fleshed-out philosophies; they’re the bemused musings of people who have been forced, through economic circumstances, to spend their days working as friendliness machines, who have to work to hang onto their humanity whenever they’re not working to live. Seen from a certain perspective, Constant Image works as a symphony of numbness.

But when you actually listen to the thing, it bursts with life, with purpose. Singer and guitarist Taylor Mulitz used to play bass for Priests, but he’s not Flasher’s frontman. Instead, the band has no leader, and Mulitz and Daniel Saperstein divide up lead-vocal parts like they were splitting tips at the end of the night. Voices overlap, or weave throughout each other. Hooks burst in from every angle. Constant Image is a short album, but its melodies and ideas never stop flying. The songs don’t belong to any clear genre; they’re punk and post-punk and new wave and shoegaze and classic rock all at once. When you’re listening, it’s hard to think about genre dividing lines or societal collapse. Instead, those euphoric synth-smears and sun-dappled guitar lines fill up your entire consciousness and sweep you away.

Not that long ago, Flasher were a punk band — or, at least, a band that came from a cultural context that had something to do with punk. Institutions like Comet Ping Pong, and like the venues that the band came up playing, are the product of a city where people spent years fighting for inclusive all-ages spaces and unbound-by-scene free expression. And yet the band’s (excellent) 2016 debut EP was a raw, nervy post-punk record, a record with traceable antecedents. For Constant Image, though, they’ve pushed themselves away from the sounds that might’ve come naturally. Instead, they decamped for Brooklyn and went to work with producer Nicolas Vernhes, someone who’s put in work with bands like Animal Collective and the War On Drugs. And they’ve come away with all these beautiful sounds, these layered guitar-twinkles and synth-whirrs and bass throbs, their voices piling all over each other in some kind of communal ecstasy.

The songs on Constant Image are just great songs. They’re songs that would get heavy airplay on alt-rock radio in a better world, a world where alt-rock radio still exists in any appreciable way. It’s an album about hopelessness that, in its craft and its spirit, still radiates hope and joy and possibility. It’s one of those albums that feels like it alters my entire brain chemistry every time the next chorus hits, and that’s Constant Image.

Constant Image is out 8th June on Domino Recordings

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