Personnel: Edgar Smith (vocals, guitar, keyboards, double bass, bass guitar); Isabel Spurgeon (vocals); Noel Anderson (guitar, harmonium); Tim Garratt (organ, keyboards, drums, percussion, background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Tim Garratt.
Recording information: The Moniaki Skyway.
Photographer: Simon Marsham.
London-based sextet JC Flowers' debut album, Driving Excitement and the Pleasure of Ownership, is a low-key gem that combines the jangle of C-86 and beyond indie pop with the rich vocal harmonies of baroque pop bands of the late '60s, while adding some nice moments of art rock weirdness along the way. They also reclaim "China Girl" from David Bowie and turn it into a sweet almost-lullaby that Iggy would be hard-pressed to recognize as a song he wrote. Keeping their arrangements simple but adding chiming keyboards and dolloping reverb over everything, the songs are easy to love on first spin but have a nice way of sinking in more deeply with each play. Vocalist Issie Spurgeon has an airy, haunting quality to her vocals that really gives ballads like "Dust Planet" some real emotional foundation, while still being breezy enough to make tracks like "Ym Mhorthcawl" and "Perfect Nurse" lovely neo-psych larks. The guys in the band are no slouches in the vocal department either, and the album really makes an impression when they all lock together in uniquely formed harmonies. On songs like "JC Flowers" and "Two Weeks," they sound like the lo-fi offspring of Free Design or the Left Banke, but not to the point of imitation. While JC Flowers may be painting with colors used time and time again by others in the past, the images they create are fully their own, and some of the songs here, like the hard to say and spell "Proletarieterette," rank with the best noisy, dreamy, atmospheric indie pop with psych undertones around. Driving Excitement and the Pleasure of Ownership is a great introduction to a band that deserves to have a close watch kept on its future activities. ~ Tim Sendra