The Reformation – The Floral War

The Reformation
The Floral War

I listened to The Reformation’s Floral War without knowing anything about the musicians behind it. I thought to myself, “This album sounds like a singer-songwriter album. I wonder whether the singer will branch out on his own.” The musicians sound like they’re really there just to strum some chords or put down a modest rhythm to allow the singing to take the spotlight. As it turns out, Floral War‘s singer acts as the “band” already, having done this album on his own.

Westin Glass had some help from his friends, but this album consists primarily of him playing the instruments. A drummer in other bands, Glass apparently had guitar and compositional talents that might have been going to waste. The nine tracks on Floral War evince fine songwriting skills that tend towards power pop a la Nada Surf.

His rhythmic inclinations and skills surface on “Half the Battle,” where the odd time signature would disorient the most seasoned dancefloor maven. What’s cool about the song, though, is that it gels really well and doesn’t sound contrived or self conscious about its unusual structure. None of the album’s tracks makes you wince, actually, whereas solo efforts usually conatin at least a song or two that overreach or indulge in some “sounds good only to me” writing.

One of the highlights of the album is “The Flower Arraignment”, whose chorus throws in some bass notes that don’t quite fit (not in the same scale?) but really make the song. The Church and The Beatles have a way of doing this also. A subtle thing, yes, but it works.

“Yellowville” contrasts with the more typical power-chord arrangements of songs like “War to Win” and “Eleven Eleven.” Its quiet solitude reminds you of Kings of Convenience for all its hushed melancholy. The acoustic guitar picking sustains the mood of the vocals, which get into some short staccato at the end of every so-many lines in the verse. It’s a well-crafted gem.

The songs on Floral War benefit from their concision. It’s a pretty short album that will leave literate-pop fans wanting to hear more.