Tape-deck sensibilities bring nostalgia in recording and style alike, as indie duo Vinyl Floor release their wonderfully organic album Funhouse Mirror.
Blending mildly Smiths-style vocals and melodies with a more optimistic rock sound of live drums, guitars, bass and horns, the set-up feels well-rooted amidst the history of indie rock, yet also refreshing in story and tone.
The opener Anything You Want introduces the voice of the band, the leading vocalist and their overall approach combined, with a marching rhythm and a timeless, catchy and anthemic hook. It’s a strong start, a big-band vibe that lingers and energises, and the rest of the project continues to impress.
Retro honky-tonk piano flavours and funky bass light up the space and variation of Clock With No Hands. Already versatility is a strength, each song devoted to its purpose, and still that Vinyl Floor creative voice proves recognisable. Part of this is the warmth and uplift of yet another effective chorus. Another part is the conceptual intrigue and poetry of the writing, relatable yet brilliantly new.
Between Lines Undone follows with similar poetic appeal, and slowly but surely the reflective implications of Funhouse Mirror begin to shine. In the same instance, Vinyl Floor showcase a warming sense of unity as both a band and in their clear audience embrace; optimism of sound contrasts complexity of topic, for a welcoming vibe that keeps you listening.
Arrangement matters with an album, and Funhouse Mirror has it down. Consider the piano-led softness and breathy contemplation of Dear Apollon, lovely seductive guitar-work smoothly bridging the gap between vocal moments. Also the tumbling rhythms and rising anticipation of an Americana-kissed Ever, The Optimist hits with brilliant impact afterwards; and another story that fascinates.
Suddenly we’re in a distorted, haunted realm for Pretty Predictable, the project eclectic as ever yet still connected to its core intentions and style (Death Of A Poet offers similar intrigue, before evolving into a circus-ready groove). A creative highlight, unexpected and enchanting as it rains down and increasingly gathers momentum.
The title-track turns back towards the opening style and original rock songs from bands like The Beatles – a simple chorus of voices and a four-to-the-floor progression with both colour and calm at work. The band’s lyrics stand tall here, indeed throughout but perhaps more so now for the overall links to what Funhouse Mirror more broadly represents.
Big rock energy lets Stare, Scare really connect and quickly prompt a volume shift for that louder immersive mood. Short lines and call-and-response qualities again prove unexpected, a little prog-rock almost, but simpler. Vinyl Floor refuse to be pigeonholed for a style, and this album celebrates that in true unpredictable or Funhouse-esque fashion.
Then we get a cinematic and emotive closer in the form of Days, acoustic verses letting the voice and words deliver an intimate and again beautifully poetic journey; as alluring as it is deeply moving while things flourish and grow. At six and a half minutes in length, this is something of an epic track, composed and performed with passion and precision for a huge finish that leaves a distinctly silent void once the music has stopped.
Naturally one of those album’s you want to spend more time with. The music is easy to escape into, well-recorded and enjoyable, yet there are so many intricacies and ideas interwoven throughout that it takes more than a single visit to really appreciate them all. Well worth a few spins this season.