July 19, 2017

EP: Fruit + Flowers - Drug Tax

Fruit + Flowers perfects romantic surf noir on their debut EP.

The first time I saw “surf noir” quartet Fruit + Flowers, I promptly forgot they existed. It was a friend’s rooftop show, and the band’s harmony-laden rock wasn’t nearly as interesting as the free keg in the corner. In the two years since then, the band has done what all bands should do: took any gig they could and worked on their chops as musicians and performers. Now, a live set from Fruit + Flowers is a visceral experience, way more exciting than a too-foamy beer. The four-piece sounds tight, lean, and mysterious, like they’re acting with purpose as opposed to figuring it out as they go. Their first EP Drug Trax takes a relatively straightforward approach in capturing the band’s appeal. There are few production gimmicks, no sampled-clips of dialogue, no mumbled “one…two…three” to start off a song. The quartet shimmer here as they do onstage.

The dark haze of guitarists Ana and Lyz and bassist Caroline isn’t a product of studio trickery. Like a lot of vintage rock-inspired bands before them, their three-part harmonies contain strands of classic '50s and '60s girl groups. Like those groups, these songs mainly deal with romantic love and frequently cast the objects of the bands' affection as dark, mysterious lovers. “Subway Surfer” is like if "Leader of the Pack" got sped up and thrown in a blender. The ladies of Fruit + Flowers differentiate from those stilted groups, throwing in a little “yip” at the ends of their “feel.” The line “I love it when you get me red when I’m so blue” from “Down Down Down” is darker than any of those groups could have been. Not just content to sing, the band shreds, with Ana breaking into a caterwauling solo at the climax of “Down Down Down.” Songs like “Dark Surf” proves the band isn’t just throwing out the world “noir” for kicks, channeling all the gloom of Bauhaus. The standout single for me is “Out of Touch,” which perfectly balances the band’s love of darkness with their romantic side. It makes me feel like a fallen angel, like I have a secret, or a score to settle. With Drug Tax, Fruit + Flowers has certainly made me regret not keeping up with them since that early rooftop show. Don’t make the same mistake that I did.


Listen to Fruit and Flowers on bandcamp


Mo is a writer who can be spotted at the gig dancing like a squid. Follow him on twitter @sadgayfriendx. He also helps books shows at a Brooklyn house venue called The Bronze.