REVIEW: Florist - Holdly

Raquel Dalarossa

“I’m so terrified of all the things I love,” sings Emily Sprague on Florist’s new EP, Holdly. “I know that I will lose them all one by one” (“Cool and Refreshing”). The bleak sentiment is cushioned by gentle, breezy guitar plucking that rises like the sun over distant, rolling hills—like much of Florist’s output so far, it reminds us that life can be both crushingly sad and exquisitely beautiful at the same time. The Brooklyn-based four-piece have been producing delicate folk-pop since mid-2013 and were happily signed to Double Double Whammy this past July, but vinyl pressing issues have prevented a full-length release from materializing just yet. Thankfully, the five songs found on Holdly serve to whet our appetites just so with subtle yet vibrant arrangements and Sprague’s intimate, stirring lyrics. 

Florist’s sonic aesthetic seems to borrow much from the band’s roots in upstate New York. They met and were formed in Albany, though Sprague grew up near the Catskill Mountains. The music she makes with bandmates Rick Spataro, Felix Walworth, and Jonnie Baker often feels as crisp as mountain air and as sweetly welcoming as a small town. Her lyrics draw on simple but specific memories; the fourth track, “Remembering Spring 2013,” for example, seems to pull directly from Sprague’s diary with lines like “After dark meet by the bridge, go for a walk / And Claire would talk about the moon / I said if this is the ending of the world / I don’t think I’d be upset.” Her vocals are hushed but starkly crystalline so that it sounds like she’s crooning directly into our ears. Behind her, quiet, layered guitar plucking helps to craft a fully-formed scene as we listen—it’s as lush and as private as a meadow in the woods. 

Though Sprague’s lyrics are a true highlight of Florist’s material, the sounds and textures found on Holdly are also a real joy to nestle into. Sprague is a self-described gear head, so it’s no surprise these recordings sound so rich and perfectly designed; their quality recalls the quieter moments on Feist’s Metals. On “Vacation,” honeyed guitars perfectly complement Sprague’s innocent vocals as soft drums keep step in the background, and even as the song swells near its end, none of the components are ever fighting for attention. It all makes for a decidedly enjoyable, comforting listen. 

There’s certainly room for Florist to experiment with their sound, and a full-length release from the band will hopefully see a little more variation in the mix, following in the footsteps of this EP’s title track, which briefly incorporates a stuttering but soft synth. But for now, the warmth of these five songs should be enough to carry us through the oncoming winter.