Album Walkthrough: Floodlights break down their triumphant debut album, From A View
The Melbourne group's debut album dissects the conversations of Australia through a somewhat nostalgic, jangly lens.
Header image and in-article image by Sarah Hellyer.
Even though they haven't been around for too long, it's clear that Melbourne-based group Floodlights are something special. Since emerging in mid-2018, the four-piece have blossomed into a promising new name worth paying attention to, both on the live stage - where they've quickly captured attention through headline shows on the east coast - and in recording, whether that be their debut EP Backyard back in 2019 or the few singles that have littered their discography in the time since.
However, with the recent arrival of their debut album From A View - which arrived in mid-July through Spunk Records - it's clear that Floodlights are more than just a promising new name. They're a group that have made their arrival, and ready for your attention.
From A View is a charming eleven tracks that really showcase the peaks of the band early on in their career, however it's much more than just an introduction to those that have yet to come across the group and their sound. It's also an album that's shown how far they've grown and evolved in such a short amount of time, utilising the album's longer-format duration to navigate different sounds and tell complex stories in a way that we think would surprise everyone, even those that have already acquainted themselves with the group through the Melbourne alt-rock scene.
At a surface level, From A View captures a sense of nostalgia surrounding 80s Australian rock merged with 90s alt-rock, moving between jangly guitar melodies and searing, attentive vocals that bring these two distinct time periods together. In saying that, however, it also does a brilliant job of bringing these sounds forward into 2020, folding in new sounds that keep the album out of this 'pub rock' adjacent category and instead, something a little less cliché and more well-rounded; alt-rock, indie-pop and even a splash of harmonica all swirling around high-tier storytelling that feels like the central core of Floodlights' debut album.
Speaking of storytelling, a deeper understanding of the record shows that it's more than just a collection of jangly Australian rock reworked for a 2020 release. It's also an album that explores the greater conversations and discussions of the Australiana-esque sound its founded upon, whether it be casual conversations overheard at workplaces or while touring small venues on the east coast, or those that are happening to the band's members, with their two vocalists - Louis Parsons and Ashlee Kehoe - exploring more intimate and personal moments throughout the record such as the complexities of drifting apart from someone you love.
All round, it's an album that really showcases the best of Floodlights at the start of their career. It's an introduction to the band's sound and the conversations they've chosen to highlight and emphasise through their work, presenting a brilliant skillset in storytelling and songwriting so early into a career that you know it's only going to deepen and grow as time goes on - and that's really, really exciting to think about.
In the meantime, however, From A View is a brilliant record, and one you can dive into below alongside a track-by-track walkthrough from Parsons and Kehoe, who dive into the album's inner themes and creation one song at a time.
This track reflects on a journey up to the Kimberley in Australia, ruminating on snippets of advice heard and knowledge learnt while moving in these places. Louis and I (Ash) drove across the Gibb River Road with a bunch of friends in 2018 on a year-long trip around Australia. This song reflects upon this journey and the many things learnt on the way from different people and places we visited.
Matter of Time explores the exploitation of power by certain groups and individuals, particularly in the political landscape. I (Louis) bought the riff into the band while we were jamming for the weekend in Flinders. Archie then started singing the chorus and we built the song from there. This was one of the last tracks we wrote before we recorded the album and was probably one of the quickest to write - it all seemed to come together really quickly.
Walk Away has always been one of our favourite songs to play live. Louis brought the riff to the group and we built it from there one rainy afternoon in a living room in Northcote. Lyrically, the concept of walking away from confrontation was something that Louis and I (Ash) were chatting about one day. Joe started singing the chorus melody and then Louis and I sent each other lyrics over the phone and hashed it out based on personal experience and what we had observed from people around us.
Don’t Pick That Scratch takes a look at the amnesia of certain aspects of Australian history, reflecting upon cycles of fear, feelings of entitlement and the racist beliefs that can sit hidden in the underbelly of both individuals and a national culture as a whole. I (Ash) wrote the lyrics to this after watching the Australian Dream documentary.
It was primarily written in reaction to the excuses made by certain individuals and looks more broadly at what lies beneath these so-called “slip of the tongue”. Louis then took the lyrics and came up with a melody that afternoon, and the band fleshed out the song to make it what it is now.
Glory of Control
I guess the title of the song gives it away - Glory of Control was written about people that exercise their authority for self-validation. I (Louis) worked for a year in finance, in which I encountered several people that relished in the glory of directing those who came under them. This track looks at those individuals who inflate their egos through exercising power and control. I had it in my mind that synth would work well in the song and there was one at Head Gap Studios, where we recorded the album. We played around for a bit and got the sound that we were after.
Thanks for Understanding was a bit of a slow burn. We had the intro jam for a while but couldn’t quite find the right chord progression to follow along from it. Eventually one day we decided to revisit it and Louis started playing the chords that the song became. Joe started singing the chorus line and Louis and I wrote the lyrics together from there. The track was written around the chorus line that Joe originally sang. It describes the complicated process of growing apart from someone, even though you still care for them.
It Was All Going So Well until a few words were spoken that I couldn’t unhear. I (Louis) met a guy at work one day who I was really getting along with. We had similar interests and he had some fascinating stories to tell. Five minutes changed my whole perception of him. A moment of casual racism tore down the integrity that I thought he had. Re-living this experience, it occurred to me that the hurtful words he thoughtlessly spoke seemed imprinted on him, deeply ingrained by those who influenced his beliefs.
Tropical Fun was one of the first songs we wrote as a band. I wrote it as a reflection on how people’s behaviour can change when a sense of unjust entitlement is felt away from home. Walking in the streets of Indonesia whilst on a trip, there were times where I (Louis) felt ashamed of how some visitors saw their holiday as a right and not a privilege, with a lack of respect for local cultures.
Proud and Well was another one that we wrote quite early on and hadn’t been playing much live at all. We had the song sitting there as a jam, and were keen to pursue it fully into a song. I (Louis) wrote the lyrics one day, in reflection of something I guess a lot of people experience these days - the quest in finding contentment in what you have chosen to do. Regardless of how late you discover your passions or how long it takes you to get there, you should find confidence and pride in being yourself.
Shifting Shadows was a track that really formulated itself over one jam at Bakehouse Studios. I (Louis) had the intro melody and the song sort of morphed and changed from there. Lyrically, it tells one story from two perspectives. Through one lens, it's a luckless tale of a broken down car in the middle of nowhere with nothing but the moon for light. From a different view, a fluke riddled run of fortune unravelled and dodged a far worse outcome. Joe’s bass line is one of the highlights of the track for me, it was great to be able to get a bass solo in there.
Happiness was written by Louis and the rest of the band then added their parts over and the track developed into what you hear in the recording. The track circles around the notion of having conviction in what you want to do. Opportunities are constantly passed up in the hope of something better, just around the corner. Plans are always delayed and changed while waiting for a perfect time that might never come. Until the plunge is taken, a smile may never reach its full extension.
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