Head of Roses by Flock of Dimes album review by Adam Williams for Northern Transmissions

Sub Pop Records

7

Flock of Dimes

Head of Roses

After over a decade of creating music, whether that’s with her primary outfit Wye Oak or with the likes of Dirty Projectors, Bon Iver or Future Islands, to name only a few artists, Jenn Wasner’s second solo LP under the Flock of Dimes banner finds the artist at her most assured. Reflecting on ‘Head of Roses’ the Baltimore resident can be found in a contemplative mood “I think I’ve finally reached a point in my career where I feel comfortable
enough with myself and what I do, that I’m able to relax in a certain simplicity or a straight forwardness that I
wasn’t comfortable with before”.

Following on from 2016’s ‘If You See Me, Say Yes’, our protagonist’s latest release is a wash of different noises and textures, with Wasner’s voice found pirouetting amongst the myriad of contrasting soundscapes. Electronics play a key role in ‘Head of Roses’, while more organic nuances help create an earthy foundation, adding to the shifting layers of sound on display.

Thematically, Flock of Dime’s sophomore outing embraces vulnerability, honesty and openness, while channelling it’s emotions about heartbreak. Although this romantic entanglement isn’t just about Wasner’s heart being broken, but the duality of being the heartbreaker and not just the heartbreakee. The notion of love and relationships are as subtle as the record’s overall personality, with its references buried beneath the artist’s bruised voice and accompanying audio melancholy. ‘Awake for the Sunrise’, is a loose and languid song buoyed by yearning harmonies and a persistent thump, that’s accompanied by a brittle acoustic strum containing the line “I didn’t think I was a terrible liar/but I am when I need it most” as if to acknowledge the notion of being caught red handed by a suitor. ‘Walking’ follows a similar path but with a more direct lyrical turn of phrase, as Wasner plainly states “we are dead in the water” with the emotionless delivery of someone who’s admitted defeat on a relationship. As a swerve away from love coming to an end, the playful pop tones of ‘Two’ slithers and shines with low key optimism “can I be one/can we be two?” hints at the possibility of embarking on a new chapter with someone. One of the only blots on ‘Head of Roses’ copybook is that Wasner’s wordplay is a little hard to decipher, either with the delivery not being enunciated clearly or being obscured by the sonics wrapping around it. Although, the melodies conjured up provide another layer of instrumentation that assists the album’s otherworldly nature – so it’s not a huge deal breaker.

Intimate and exposed yet quietly confident, ‘Head of Roses’ is Wasner bearing her soul for all the world to see.

Order Head of Roses by Flock of Dimes HERE