Review: Dead Flowers – Midnight at the Wheel Club

artworks-000050326181-7ewgz0-t500x500Having followed Dead Flowers since they released their first single, “Wonderwheel,” back in March, today the British band puts forth its debut album, Midnight at the Wheel Club. The wait has not proven disappointing.

Memories and darkness shroud Midnight at the Wheel Club. Creeping forth as central characters on the album’s eight songs, histories of sorts haunt every attempt to live in the moment. Moments that yearn for a love lost or afar.

All the lamps out tonight
Can’t make it bright
Dancers in their cages
Just can’t seem to get it right

Singer Ian Williams will endure likely comparisons to Tom Waits, but Williams’ vocal delivery is more in tune with The National’s Matt Berninger. Both write of scenes familiar to adults; no matter if they reside in New York or London, their drollness is universal (“She span a plate in the dark/A plate on her head in the dark”). Yet whereas Berninger calculates cold New York indifference — and is known to crib lines from authors (see: Wake Up, Sir! by Jonathan Ames) — Williams’ British verbal countenance and embrace of such observations is no affectation. Clearly enamored with Coney Island which begat the Dead Flowers origin story, separating the singer from the songs would serve as an injustice as New York has clearly supplanted Britain in Williams’ heart in the Irish dirge, “The Beach.”

If I should die before I awake
Don’t burn my body and bones
Bury me not in the center of this town
Bury me down by the coast

Dead Flowers shine brightest on Wheel Club‘s starkest moments. From reflections on suicide in “Fences” to the building cosmic crescendo of “Supernova,” the band’s true beauty comes through in the unlikeliest of love songs, “In the Dark.” With its piano and strings, never has the thought of “watching Andy Rooney” been considered a romantic moment by any American.

I don’t wanna be departed
With anybody but you
I don’t wanna go to the party
With anybody but you

It is this outsider’s awe of American relics that has endeared Dead Flowers to my ears from the start. While one may question Williams’ notion of love, his conviction to the emotion is beyond reproach. After all, who can argue with his assertion that “a good time is a good time”? To me, Midnight at the Wheel Club is exactly that. For a first outing, Dead Flowers have set a high bar to follow with such a fine piece of art.

Stream/purchase Midnight at the Wheel Club below and check out upcoming tour dates for Dead Flowers, including their record release show this Thursday 14 November at London’s St. Pancras Old Church here.

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