Boomkat Product Review:
One of the key albums in the development of the psych-folk resurgence of a few years back, this first album by the Philadelphia collective gathers together the founding elements of a band whose various members (most notably Greg Weeks, Meg Baird, Otto Hauser and Helena Espvall) would between them go on to feature in most of the acid trip acoustics of the past four years or so. 'Flowery Noontide' offers a blueprint of the band's sound straight away, straddling the divide between the early seventies post-hippy comedown and olde English mediaeval balladry. Key to this band's success is the use of anachronistic harmonies in their songwriting, lending a kind of archaic authenticity that can't be approximated by a few fluttery melodies played between a dulcimer and a recorder (though there's plenty of that to be found here too). The instrumental skills of the assembled performers are far more accomplished than those of the masses of bedroom-dwelling Sealed Knot enthusiasts that populate the genre, and that's something reflected in the baroque arrangements of 'Meadow' and the Pentangle-like 'Byss & Abyss'. The fact that the vocal duties are shared between Weeks' slightly spooky intonations and Baird's feathery purity of voice lends the album a further dimension that prevents stagnation in a bog of humdrum acoustics, not that there's ever any real danger of that. Just when you think it's all getting a touch too pastoral for its own good the album takes a turn toward edgy discord and sonic upset, as happens during an interlude in 'Hearts & Daggers' or via the frazzled electric guitar passages of 'Riding'. No self-respecting fan of the wyrd folk scene should be without this, and even four years after the fad first kicked off this album sounds fresh, vital and free of the kind of kitschness that all too often threatens to drag music of this ilk into the mire. Awesome.