The Birds Outside Sang is the first album released by Brooklyn based indie pop group Florist. The album utilises distorted synth sounds to construct a reverberating and organic texture over which the lyrics be delicately laid. This lyrical poetry ponders mortality, the dexterity of feelings, and the human disposition. Several years prior to this album’s release, Sprague, band member, was involved in a cycling crash. The culprit car drove away, leaving her with a broken arm, a lengthy hospitalised recovery, and an album to write. Naturally, this is the work of a group, however one voice cuts through, that of Sprague, as she takes us on an intimate journey through her consciousness in the aftermath of her accident.
This is such a personally touching album, I would find it hard to compliment and address in its full splendour. Its profound and intricate nature lends it viscosity of a kind that leaves the music quite unassailable. Thus, I have, instead, written a sort of narrative into the album, depicted below. I would like to disclaim that this is purely my own interpretation, it is perhaps disparate to Florist’s and Sprague’s intentions.
The italics are, naturally, her words, the rest is interpolation, once again this is just my reading:
This album concerns the feelings of helplessness, depression, and placidity which so commonly accompany some kind of trauma which scars your very identity, watching aspirations drift by you, clutching at strands of thought to get through.
If there's one thing that I believe it's that the wind can make you child again
Rhythms jerking in and out the music’s texture, as breath that opens and closes like shutters. Coming to terms with one's own state of competency, the birth of one’s own parameters. Lost and seeking refuge. But it also offers some consolation.
I am weightless I am bone I am weightless I am bone I am asphalt
I was born a boy of many opinions but now I'm a girl who doesn't really care about anything
She comments on her own subjugated mentality, how her spirit has succumbed to gentrification with gentle despondency.
Passivity, acceptance, her voice and instrumentation almost juxtapose each other, her voice forlorn and unargumentative, reciting, not creating, while the music flutters, flickers organically around her.
In my head I'm a child but there's a pill for that
Isn't the joke on me when I started to bleed
Oh the frailty of mortality.
Treating her own disposition somewhat as a disease, how she lets everything happen, allowing things slip through her fingers.
There are also elements of escapism, of distraction, of seeking feeling, of seeking clear thought, with the same ravenous desperation some might feel for food or sleep, or other such forms of sustenance.
Do you and your friends want to go to the park and watch the fireworks shoot up into the air
She reminisces of saturation, of feeling, of something to appease the emptiness grating at her insides, of the warmth of invigoration.
I just wanted to know what it would feel like one part of my body alive
Her choral passages are haunting, conduce the image of myriad iterations of herself scrawling the same words, scratching them into the air.
Wrap me by my shoulder blades and hang me out to dry
The music meditates around certain patterns, circles in organic waves, sliding forward with the inevitability of each dawn, each breath.
I saw something glowing and then not
I heard water running behind the tree
She refers to her own volatile inconsistency, a quest for some solid comfort, something she can stretch and rub her cheek into without it breaking, or having to be concerned for her own fragility.
I wish I could rip the roof to see the stars
I don't know what I know anymore
Such a concision between her present self, and the passed characters which filled her body, who give her memories to bathe in, and a distant point of arrival, a means to scathe herself with comparison.
Memories of a passed life
Clinging to ideas and passions from another time, exploiting passed feelings in order to get through.
I thought that I saw the other side but it was only sunlight in my eye
In my response I intend to perhaps illustrate one aspect of one’s mentality through recovery from a severe injury, mental or physical. In this I refer to the confusion with which one approaches one’s own identity, how one’s self image is contorted by the affliction. Confusion particularly regarding where the bounds of oneself and one’s disease persist, since they are so intertwined.
It is not my intention to skew Sprague’s words, or her story, this is merely one interpretation of a very complex LP. If you're interested, another set of thoughts on the album are presented in a pitchfork review https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/21445-the-birds-outside-sang/ Naturally, my ultimate suggestion would be to listen to the music for yourself and come to your own conclusion.
Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed, until next time!