|Album Review: Catching Flies – Silver Linings|
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With every passing summer comes another season of beaches, cold drinks, and plenty of sunlight for making memories. Among the festive aspects of the season, however, are the quiet moments where we reflect and take stock of where we are in life. Catching Flies is an artist whose music consistently rides that line between entertainment and introspection. The U.K. producer's debut album Silver Linings provides an apt soundtrack for the summer season with songs that blend engaging beats and touching melodies to create moods perfectly suited for the time of year.
One of Catching Flies' most noteworthy talents is his ability to combine electronic elements in ways that sound entirely organic, and that trait is on full display on Silver Linings. The opening track "Komorebi," for example, evokes images of a sunrise with a natural build of gentle repeating arpeggios that lead to some simple percussion and fuzzy vocal samples. The song's chords are familiar, but instead of sounding retread, he successfully cultivates a feeling of warm comfort with the various textures washing over the mix before fading into the distance.
A few of the tracks from Silver Linings were released before the album, and each one evoked moods that helped establish the album's poignant nature. "Yu" has a more energetic beat than many of the other tracks, delivering a celebratory vibe with some ethereal melodies and silky vocal samples strewn in throughout, like a meeting of old friends. "Opals" provides one of the more contemplative moments on the album, with just a solo keyboard in the spotlight playing beautiful arpeggios to create a stunning, dreamy soundscape, fitting for a deep look into the night sky. Catching Flies ups the ante on "Satisfied," with a danceable pulse that doesn't lose a bit of emotional impact.
One of the centerpiece tracks of Silver Linings is the previously released "New Gods," which features guest appearances from fellow U.K. artists Oscar Jerome on guitar and vocals and rapper Jay Prince. The song stands out not only because of the guests' presence but their ability to fit seamlessly within Catching Flies' sonic realm. Jerome delivers airy, faraway vocals in the song's hooks as well as lush guitar harmonies and a tasteful solo toward the end of the track, while Prince's verses offer an effortlessly smooth vocal component to the track. Catching Flies proves to be a skilled arranger on the track as well, with fluent rises and falls in energy for maximum emotional effect.
With any album consisting of primarily instrumental music, interpretations of song titles are subjective to the listener, and this one is no different. In listening to the song "Silver Linings," however, the music reflects the name, providing a sense of resilience. With the title in mind, the powerfully layered melodies and textures effectively work together to draw one's thoughts to the pursuit of the most positive outcomes in life's adversities.
Continuing the trend of poignant song names comes the glistening "When The Sun Bursts" and "She Goes Out of Focus." The former offers glittery textures and pulsing momentum that perfectly reflects sparkling sunlight in the heart of summertime. The title and music of the latter suggest a narrative, perhaps of a fleeting summer romance, with catchy melodies that play like a heart skipping a little faster than normal for a special someone.
"Kite Hill Theme" provides another meditative entry to the set, with no percussion and an astonishing blend of string pads and melodies that take the listener into another plane, far away from the problems of everyday life. The track is another example of Catching Flies' deft touch not only in production but also in arranging, as the sweeping sounds flow naturally with a captivating push and pull of energies.
The album closes with a finale simply titled "Z." The track offers a fitting culmination of the set of songs, with a climactic blend of layers and sounds all built off a repeating syncopated melody. With its swelling energy and impactful melodies, the song could be a soundtrack to a montage of summertime memories. The outro changes the feel, slowing things down with a mix of shimmering synth melodies that draw attention to peaceful, simple beauties in life.
While Silver Linings in its entirety works as a soundtrack to summertime, Catching Flies' skills and musicality also convey a beautiful sense of strength as we all search for some quiet, precious moments amid the hustle and bustle. It's in those instances that, even through all the glamour and fun of summer, we find the true beauty in life and in ourselves.
Download Silver Linings here.