Puerto Rico Flowers
Fan Death Records
I blame Denman Anderson for ruining my life. Well, not all aspects of my life. Some parts I take responsibility for. Some I blame on the Government for exposing my dad to Agent Orange in Vietnam. A great deal of it I blame on capitalism for making it so I don’t get paid for the work I actually enjoy. Some of it I blame on the financial institution I worked at for ten years because, well seriously, fuck them. But when it comes to going totally ape shit about Puerto Rico Flowers, that’s totally Denman’s fault. He turned me on to this band, and I can’t shake the creepy feeling I have for them.
PRF, as we hip people like to refer to them because we are lazy and writing through a bout of stress, anxiety and depression with a fucked up sleep schedule while we wait for phone calls that don’t seem to come, put out their new “album”. It’s got seven songs. It’s called 7. I have a hard time calling something with 7 songs an album, but it is 40 minutes long because John Sharkey !!! (or Sharkey as he will be called henceforth in this review) likes to push the limits of my sanity.
Puerto Rico Flowers (see what I did there) is a maddening musical enchante (I probably didn’t spell or use that correctly, but I don’t speak french) that crawls into bed with you at night and seduces you. But it’s not sexy, it’s kinda gross and you’re a bit repulsed by the sight of this seductress. Yet you can’t help but submit to the pure sex their giving off because it’s totally getting you hot. And as this is the most Puerto Rico Flowers we have ever gotten in one sitting, it gets infectious.
We find Sharkey where we left him off on the previous two outings. He’s wallowing, endlessly, with a crushingly soothing voice that is delivered with a monotone like drawl. The bass is pushing your face into the pillow, with force, but still its hands are gentle and the drums thrust at your pelvis. It all seems okay, this uninvited visit, because a song of keyboards cuts the air.
Where things get problematic is track 3, “The Pain Comes Slowly”. There’s this total screaming in pain vocal track during the intro and while the song itself is not outside the formula that Sharkey normally employs. But if I found Nick Cave rocking this space ballad on one of his albums, I wouldn’t be shocked at all. Which is the kind of left turn awareness a good song writer employs.
“Keep Me Around” sounds like the bastardization of a Brett Easton Ellis story. Drenched in 80’s regret and slightly off kilter, this is what Patrick Bateman probably hears when Huey Lewis plays as he fantasizes or actually hacks up women. That plot point was never fully resolved for me in any satisfactory way and so Puerto Rico Flowers upends that emotional quandary. Thanks Sharkey.
But all in all Puerto Rico Flowers continues to work in the repetition of an idea and sound the same way that Lungfish did. To people who interact with music in a passive way, you know, guys that watch too much sports and neglect their wives/girlfriends, Puerto Rico Flowers would just sound like the same, repetitious, drone laden song on repeat. But it’s the nuance that each song has, that truly makes this shit genius. And it is genius, a musical language all its own, though it seems impossible, because it’s still just a standard set. The keyboards play the role of the melodic instrument, mostly, though the bass provides the gut punch and drives the songs. Then, just add thundering drums and some covered in sorrow sounding vocals. There’s nothing too complicated about how this music is made, but the way it comes at you is astonishing.