Silk Flowers

Ltd. Form

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On Ltd. Form, Silk Flowers attempt to bring their murky electronic pop into the light and a bit more out of the past by working with producer Amanda Warner, aka MNDR. As MNDR, she excels at deceptively bright synth pop with deeper meanings under the surface, so the collaboration seems inspired. She helps the band scrub several layers of dirt and grime off their sound, revealing shiny synth tones that owe more to ‘80s Casio presets than the muddy analog blobs of Silk Flowers' self-titled debut (their beats still lumber like the drum machine is running on dying batteries, however). The band’s mood is also lighter on Ltd. Form, especially on the smooth jam “Small Fortune," which borders on chillwave. More often than not, however, these changes don’t work. On Silk Flowers, the band was equally eerie and awkward and somehow endearing, like a zombie Ian Curtis playing keyboards dragged out of a junkyard. Here, the sound, lyrics, and Aviram Cohen's rumbling voice all sound more natural and approachable, but somehow less appealing. Ltd. Form features a surprising amount of instrumentals, many of which are decent -- “Thin Air”'s lurching melody and kinetic beat are intriguingly ambivalent, but they’re not as distinctive as the handful of tracks on which Cohen sings. His lovelorn musings on “Band of Color” make it one of the album’s more successful stabs at bright ‘n’ shiny synth pop, along with “A Brush Through the Dust,” though that song’s bleak church bells and graveyard philosophizing confirm that the band is at its best when it's at least a little bit morbid. Silk Flowers are just an essentially, undeniably weird band, and attempts to make them less so veer into uncanny valley territory, resulting in something more unnatural and “off” than they were before.

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