Flare – Circa EP

Circa EP

Did you ever hear someone describe a band and then never be able to get it out of your head when you listen to them? I’ve heard Flare described as chamber pop, and that label stuck in my head. What the hell is chamber pop anyway? The 7″ I reviewed by them was more of a dark, somber, slow-core style of music. Well, all I kept thinking while listening to Circa, the band’s latest EP, is that this, apparently, is chamber pop.
Regardless of the silly label, Flare play some amazingly beautiful and complicated music. There are no shortages of unique instruments used here, including keyboards, haromium, melodica, marxophone, violin, aqualin, cello, recorder, traditional guitars and drums, and ukulele. That’s right, ukulele. LD Beghtol, Flare’s singer and guitarist/ukulele player, loves to add these forgone instruments into modern music, and the band does so perfectly, creating a very deep, somber, and heavily orchestrated album. Add Beghtol’s vocals that hint at Morrissey’s style of singing, and you get something truly unique and wonderful.
“Triumph of the Pig People” does start off feeling very chamber pop, with a thick, almost glorious sound dominated by Beghtol’s higher-pitched vocals. But things really kick off on the title track, a somber, piano-led song that will have you gazing off into the distance, catching every subtle nuance of Beghtol’s voice while being lost in his lyrics. Halfway through, light ukulele and strings come in, and this song is elevated to an entirely new level. This is just amazing, beautiful stuff. “Measure of a Man” reminds me more of music from slow-core bands like Red House Painters or Low, subtly soft and quietly deep. “Item: June 16th” almost sounds like it was recorded in a church, with very deep and drawn-out vocals that are also hushed and a thick, atmospheric sound. Beghtol’s vocals sound almost feminine on “Anywhere (Like the Moon),” and they work beautifully with the violin and piano. And finally “Save Me, Save Me…” provides a fitting ending, starting off slow and orchestrated and building, as Beghtol sings: “Save me, save me / from my history.” Beautiful and very unique.
I get the sense that Flare is an ever-changing group of musicians who put more of an emphasis on creating intricate, amazing music than simply touring and recording as Flare. Beghtol has a few side projects, including the Moth Wranglers, and we recently reviewed guitarist Jon DeRosa’s project, Aarktica. There’s something to be said for gathering the musicians who you meld with and who have similar ideals, and here that effort has produced one of the most beautiful and full-sounding albums I’ve heard in some time.