These are the “liner notes” I wrote for Arctic Flowers’ new 5-song EP, “Procession”:
Arctic Flowers’ “Procession” EP is a little bit dark postpunk, a little bit peace/anarcho-punk, and a little bit deathrock. The upshot of this potent musical cocktail is an especially compelling and noteworthy addition to Arctic Flowers’ catalog, their first release since their awesome 2011 debut LP, Reveries. “Procession” reminds at turns of early Siouxsie Sioux, the Smartpils, The Plague (“Paradise of Pain”), and the Superheroines from LA’s old deathrock scene. The band’s name comes from a Rubella Ballet song, and comparisons to that band’s sound and message are certainly in order, too. Procession’s title track is a mid-to-uptempo, thumping dark rocker; other tracks explore both the band’s gothier (“Strange Ports of Call”) and punkier (“The Wrecking”) sides. Singer Alex’s vocals conjure up past greats like Zillah Minx and Pauline Murray (of Penetration). The rest of the band has a pedigree that includes Signal Lost, and although one can hear shades of members’ past bands in Arctic Flowers’ output, Procession’s overall sound serves as a fitting capstone to the band’s decidedly darker turn. Arctic Flowers thankfully keep the “punk” part of the post-punk equation in the mix, too, and this is evinced in both the band’s lyrics and in their palpable DIY sensibility. The production and musicianship doesn’t sound DIY, however — at least, not in the sense that “DIY” has often come to be a euphemism for “sounds like crap.” The production job by Stan Wright at Buzz or Howl serves the music well, keeping it spry and punchy, placing Alex’s vocals firmly and audibly in the mix, adding in spooky echoes when necessary. The Procession EP is one of the more prominent releases in the recent movement to marry the styles of UK anarcho-punk and gothpunk to US deathrock, filtered through the lens of — and moving past and beyond — the past decade’s punk scene’s fascination with d-beat. “Procession” is dark, intelligent, guitar-driven, and compelling.