Hands up who knows anything at all about Flare Acoustics Art League.....no?....me neither, prior to buying this CD anyway. Well Wikipedia describes them thus -"Flare Acoustic Arts League -- a.k.a. Flare (band) -- is an experimental pop band formed by guitarist Damian Costilla and singer LD Beghtol in New York in 1996. The pair co-authored a body of intense, darkly romantic, atmospheric songs -- which were deeply influenced by The Smiths, The Magnetic Fields, Love, This Mortal Coil and The Velvet Underground -- that the duo performed in intimate clubs and gallery spaces in New York, eventually attracting the attention of Stephin Merritt and Gail O'Hara -- both of whom were then music writers for Time Out New York and who became early supporters of the band." Beghtol was also a guest vocalist/designer for The Magnetic Fields' critically acclaimed 69 Love Songs You can see the influence of The Magnetics Fields in this bands music. The sense of humour , though darker is there ,as is the esoteric nature and a propensity for thrilling dramatic flourishes. Beghtol who wrote or co-wrote the album whole( as well as producing and playing many of the instruments) has a limited register but his low key croon is extremely pleasant. The songs have some exquisite lugubrious melodies in contrast to some of the lyrical content about body parts , murders and betrayal. "Its not a pretty picture" as they sing on the lilting gorgeous "Love Finds Andy Warhol" Featuring a very impressive array of musicians and coming with a very arty insert pullout this album is clearly a labour of love. Virtually every song is a tenderly constructed mini-symphony featuring over-lapping harmonies, strings and lots of instrumental exotica. Put to songs as wonderful as "Simeon /A Dream Of Love" , "Wish it Away" and "Reminiscences Of A Minnesota State Training School Alumnus Class Of 1905" this results are truly intoxicating .It sometimes veers off at new and frankly unwelcome abrasive tangents but these are usually brief like "Recessional "or "Ballad Of Little Brown Bear". The hidden track at the albums end is another misnomer. Parts of this album are as unutterably lovely as music gets. The more wilful out there moments prevent Flare being the all out classic it could possibly have been but rest assured there are moments enough to makes this an album more than worthy of investigation. You may not have heard of this band ( if you have apologies ) but you definitely should hear them. The sooner the better.
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