REVIEW: Flaural - Over Imaginary Cigarettes

Kelly Kirwan

Psych-rock has had quite the renaissance of late. It permeates the indie scene, which makes sense, since independent artists aren't usually about the neat lines so often found in mainstream pop (not always, just often—no side-eye here). And so bands like Flaural emerge with a heavy dose of distortion and reverb to satisfy our craving for '60s-influenced tracks, adding a dash of shoegaze and new wave just to keep us on our toes. Because, while Flaural may draw inspiration from the genres of old, they're not looking to mimic what's been done before. Instead, the Denver-based quartet is crafting their own sound while following the ethos of a few established genres.

One of the underlying themes of Flaural is this sense of a fresh start. Its members came together after previous projects fell apart (A Band In Pictures, Bloodhound, Shady Elders), and found in their group a clean slate for them to color in any way they chose. Enter their new EP, Over Imaginary Cigarettes, out via Play Plus Records.

The debut single, "Nonnie," starts off with a bare, almost echoing space-age sound. The introduction lingers in this otherworldly expanse, before breaking into a propulsive beat and steady bass. It's a track that ebbs and flows in pace, but at it's quickest step, "Nonnie" feels more evocative of post-punk than an acid-tab-on-the-tongue jam session. Its riffs will rile you up without being too rough, then just as quickly dip into a synth that’s extraterrestrial.

Its follow-up track, "Nowhere Near," continues with these experimental synths—which sound vaguely woodwind—as fuzzy amps and steady drums work their way into the melody. The vocals have a subdued, somewhat mumbling quality, as the song revolves around the simple warning, “Don’t you ever try to love me, girl.” The line is emphasized by its relatively slow and featherweight delivery—a contrast to its encapsulating verses. And so it succeeds in becoming a sly earworm, murmured under your breath after the song ends, because isn’t it human nature to have your interest piqued when something’s off limits?

The closing track, "Mind Field," bursts onto the scene with full-bodied instrumentals and electronic detailing. The guitar work is quick footed and the drums heavy handed, making the track a banger true to the rock 'n’ roll genre. It also sticks with Flaural’s affinity for a slight melodic abrasion countered by even-toned vocals. Listening through their EP, it becomes clear that the band isn’t concerned with being clear-cut or easily categorized. Their songs go rogue when it comes to structure, in a way that doesn’t feel schizophrenic. Instead, it’s refreshing, soothing, and enrapturing all at once (with the exception of "Heat Seater," which is downright explosive and gritty for any mosh-pits you may find yourself in). 

Over Imaginary Cigarettes is an EP that shifts and evolves with each chord progression. And while I could list the niches and influences Flaural has sewn among it’s five tracks, I’d rather save the hyphens and have you pluck them out for yourself.