Flotation Walls have cultivated a unique sound somewhere between the ambitious orchestration of Arcade Fire, the dramatic indulgence of Bowie at his Bowiest, the excitement of The Flaming Lips and the layered complexity of Blonde Redhead. That they do it all without missing a beat is a feat that has be experienced - on the one hand, the simplest song on the album has something like 80 audio tracks mixed into it; on the other hand, even the most complex and layered textures on the disc do nothing to sacrifice their hooks and drive.
This is an art album - they have interesting things to say about meaningful subjects, and thematically the album rewards repeat listenings. But this is an art album produced by a group of people with a keen appreciation for pop music. It's ambitious and it's complex - but it's unpretentious and accessible, and lots of fun even when it's breaking your heart.
The album's title, Nature, is no accident - but don't come expecting songs about sunsets and flowers. The nature they seek to explore is human - the songs play out thematically over the course of a human life. Consider the way the conception celebrated in raucous opener "Sperm and Egg" fades into the newborn heartbeat of the drums that open "Worms," the following track; there is a flow here.
The fact that said heartbeat opens a song about the inevitability of death should tell you something about what's to come - we get a spiritual journey from the innocence of childhood (the gorgeous, heartbreaking "Kids, Look at the Waves") to the stockpiled experiences of old age (the raging, futile "The Sky Ejaculates"); from existential despair (simple, sad and infectious "Body") into sacred, life-affirming meaning (anthemic concession "Willis the Fireman"); from self-absorbed adolescence (disarmingly catchy "The Flickering Projection") to the capricious cruelty of Nature (the absurd interlude "Timmy Twofingers").
The Bottom Line
This disc will have you tapping your feet along to your own mortality - and that alone is worth the price of admission. Flotation Walls have produced a serious contender for 2009's indie album of the year with Nature, and you owe it to yourself to check them out!
Flotation Walls are currently touring in support of Nature and may well be coming to a city near you - you can find their tour dates posted here. They plan to chronicle their tour with videos on their Youtube Channel and updates to their Tumblr Blog. You can also find them on twitter as @flotationwalls.
If you've heard the disc, please leave a comment and let us know what you thought below!