A solitary baseline marks the start, the first five seconds. The next five: drums and guitar reveal to the listeners the landscape they will live in for the rest of the album. That first bass sound evokes an image: clean clouds and summer heat glue your legs to the open leather of the passenger seat at high tide. This is the first impression of Death and Vanilla’s newest, Flicker. In the first five seconds of the very first track, the thought of all the bad decisions you will make this summer is perfectly illustrated in just the sound alone. Further expressed in the album cover and track title: Out for Magic.
As a whole, the album sticks to a consistent tone of coastline soundtracks at sunset. The vocals reverberate and echo so melody and a clear beat pick up for the ambiguity. The tone may stay consistent but the shape of each song is individual. Such a wealth and diversity of sound throughout make it one of the better albums you will play on your road trip to San Diego. I would probably describe the album as a trustworthy play but still interesting and different.
As I mentioned, the vocals are hazy and vague so the album relies heavily on melody and instrumentation. A track that represents this well is Fearless, track seven. With a total run time of five minutes, three are spent building up for the vocal lines. Of these three minutes, a steady beat and flowing melody push towards vocals. A very easy morning or late-night play, nothing too abrasive.
My favorite track is the first, Out for Magic just because of how abruptly it starts and is intriguing and new. It's synthy and persuades you to go out and buy a new pair of sunglasses to sunbathe in front of the beach lifeguard tower. I think the worst track is the eighth track, Transparent Things because it just sounds like all the other tracks. It also doesn't help that it is later in the album so the tone of easy-going beach music is already a familiar tone. It doesn't add anything new to the album and acts as an invitation to switch to something different.
The limitations that I think the album struggled with is exactly what makes it so great is that it is consistent. I find this to be the case with lots of indie summer albums is that they drift into background music. Each track except the last has the same musical layout: the opening, lyrics, and ending melody. The album sounds more like a soundtrack than one to pay attention to. I know I am being contradictory here but it can't get by on different sounds alone. I would have enjoyed a little more play with the tone. Each track feels upbeat, it would be fun to see it get a little darker and use some heavier guitar or some different-sounding vocals.
The album works quite well shuffled out of order but tells an exciting story played through in order. The progression from track to track fit very nicely together, they almost flow from one to the other. Each start and end is either electric sounding or a guitar. The tone of each is a slow progression to the final track which breaks the pattern. What we hear first from Perpetuum Reprise are the ocean and bells. This is what we have been driving towards the whole time: the ocean. Calm and reflective as the music fades out and we are left with silence.
Looking at Death and Vanilla's discography, they seem to know their strengths very well. Taking inspiration from 60s psych they create a sound unique to the modern music landscape. A majority of their albums sound quite similar to Flicker from this year.
However, I enjoyed hearing them stretch their 60/70s sound in a soundtrack album from the film, The Tenant and Vampyr which is a dark and moody piece. To conclude, this album is a pretty good piece as a whole. The inspiration and execution are all very clear. The tones and sounds used are fun and interesting to listen to. I enjoyed them. The best tracks are tracks one: Out for Magic, two: Baby Snakes, and six: Mercury’s Rising.