Release Date: July 1st, 2018
The modern day rock scene can often seem all-too-obsessed with the studio environment; bedroom producers reign atop the unsigned music scene, guitarists keep their lead work conservative and mixing engineers frequently operate in an entirely-digital format. Massachusetts-based five piece Flamingo Pluto operate from a different perspective, choosing to focus on musicianship, live-sounding material and analog technology. After guitarist Jake Tobiason and drummer Matt Champagne began working together as a duo, they swiftly recruited vocalist Brody Bridges, guitarist Evan Lagasse and bassist Malcolm Dorfeuille to form the full band. After several months of working together, the band decided to head into the studio to make their inaugural mark on the unsigned scene. The resulting product, ‘None Yet’, showcases a group of avid musicians looking to push the creative limits and explore all aspects of their sound.
The opening track ‘Rebrace’ immediately establishes the band’s morals by opening with the sound of analog tape reel. I felt this really emphasised the strong human element to their sound, which is absolutely crucial in a live environment. Ambient and distant clean chords underpinned by inverted bass and ride cymbal provide an ambiguous start to the song, before the full band livens up the arrangement with pounding toms and ambient lead guitar work. The overall production immediately catches my attention; the drums, bass and rhythm guitar all feature very dry production, which in turn provides a solid foundation for the much wetter ambient electric guitar work as well as the more polished vocal track. This works well in allowing the lead guitar and vocal tracks to sweep across the top of the mix without overriding the rhythm and momentum established by the dry rhythm section. The track introduces some great ambient vocal sections around three quarters of the way through, which, being a five-piece act, is something I’d certainly hope the band would consider prioritising in a live setting.
‘The War’ brings a real change of pace from the opening track, employing folky strummed acoustic chords over Bridges’ solo vocals. Being so different from the opening track, I thought this showed some real enthusiasm from the band to test their creative limits. I’m looking forward to seeing them hone in on an established style over their next few releases and employ the very best of their creativity into a more channeled sonic identity. On this track, my attention turns to Bridges’ vocals; particularly the way in which he methodically tailors his delivery to the rest of the arrangement. Bridges starts the track off in his head voice over the acoustic intro, before moving to his chest voice as the arrangement starts to build and the lyrical material develops. This shows that Bridges has made a conscious effort to match his delivery to the rest of the arrangement as well as the content of the lyrics; he means what he sings and there’s a truly genuine quality to his voice. This is something I’d strongly encourage the band to place at the forefront of their marketing. It would also be a great feature to showcase should they ever decide to do fully-acoustic versions of their material.
Particular praise on ‘The War’ also goes to Dorfeuille, who takes takes full advantage of the song’s structure to bring the track to life; as the song primarily revolves around a rhythmically-sound three chord progression, Dorfeuille takes the opportunity to employ a wonderful counter-melody with his bass part. He really livens up the arrangement whilst still maintaining his crucial role as the glue between the drums and the rest of the band, which is something I think could become a signature aspect of the band’s sound. The track begins to build up at the midway point with continuously-increasing layers of backing vocals, which effectively aligns with the lyrical theme of ‘[singing] in a choir of voices’. Again, it’s worth reinforcing that the band’s fantastic backing vocal arrangements would be well worth prioritising in a live setting.
The final track ‘None Yet’ features a much heavier vibe, kicking things off with a metal-inspired riff. Champagne showcases an array of well-timed and fantastically-executed drum fills, most certainly in the breakdown section. These are impressive enough to catch your attention whilst still effectively performing their function of allowing the band to smoothly transition from section to section. After a false ending at the midpoint of the track, the band go into an extended jam section, complete with ambient counterpoint dueling guitars. I think this truly showcases their live potential and once again reinforces their emphasis on being a performing act. Whilst this section works well and serves as a great snapshot into the band’s ideals, it may be worth considering making some radio edits for each song if the band were to promote the material online. As each of the songs on the EP are over four minutes long, the band may find it difficult to successfully market their track on radio or social media due to the attention span of the average first-time listener. A shorter version of one of the tracks could help catch the attention of fans in a more effective manner, making them more likely to listen to the entire album where the band effectively showcases their live jam-session atmosphere.
Overall, ‘None Yet’ serves as a fantastic snapshot into an enthusiastic band who are keen to explore all avenues of their sound and establish themselves as an exciting live act. I’m excited to see which elements of their sound they will choose to develop into a channeled sonic identity over their next few releases. The band show great attention to detail and the arrangements are fantastic. Highly recommended for any rock or alternative fans.