With a mixture of electonica, pop, rock and R&B Flaunt has returned. With a follow up EP to their 2016 release Rave Noir, they’ve squeezed in The Antics of More Youthful Times right before the New Year. Justin Jennings and Joseph Vitterito offer up a small dosage of tracks, with an off-kilter flow, the short album is memorable, to say the least.
Flaunt’s musical evolution is apparent as you listen to each of their albums. The changes from Codon to Rave Noir were dramatic, offering up more vocal tracks, drifting away from the instrumental only sounds. The complexity has been dropped since Rave Noir, though the sound had become a more eclectic one. Where their previous foray was more smooth transitioned track after track, this new venture jumps a little more abruptly. Kicking off with “Outbreak”, their conventional mix of beats and rhythmic vocals sounds stays true what one would expect. A smooth breakdown with a catchy hook and soft sung vocals, the track comes off more radio friendly than much of Rave Noir ever was. One thing I noticed about Rave Noir was a distinct eighties throwback to a lot of the songs. Many of the beats or guitar riffs sounded overly synthesized.
With “Outbreak” it seems the eighties were abandoned with a more updated sound. Though, with the guitar riff that opens up around the 3:30 mark, it is familiar in an early 90’s buddy cop flick sort of way. But that is just a brief glimpse before getting back into the verse.
Hitting the next track is a prime example of the abruptness of this album. “Something Different” starts with a true R & B vibe, then somehow, morphs into a Spanish style ballad. It’s catchy, but comes out of left-field. Still, it sticks in your mind, and feels friendlier than Rave Noir did, even in its most liquid moments.
When you get to “Send My Love” though, it’s like listening to a completely different record. Although a cover of an “Adele” song, it seems to be a completely different song. With a haunting bass rift shrouded in reverb, the last two tracks are like abandoned children. Speeding the riff up, then yanking it back right before it grabs you, building a palpable tension, before tugging you into an enthralling guitar riff with a simple drummed back beat. “Send My Love” comes out more rock than anything before. Lyrically, the music matches perfectly, with heartbreaking story telling, “Send my love/To your new lover/I hope you treat him better”, the darkness of the song is clearly drilled into your mind. This, in this writer’s opinion, is the peak of the album. So different from everything else, filled with raw emotion, the lyrics come off more as a drunken ramble of pent up sadness and anger, than the pulse of the rest of the album. Though the words aren’t their own, I’d take this version over the original any day of the week. The combination of words and sound just make it feel like it matters more in this form. It’s only a short glimpse into what is going on, but it is so significant in this short collection.
Immediately following this, another shift. “Into the Sky”, another ditty falling back into the R & B and dance genre. More friendly, with a chorus built to be sung along to. It feels needed after “Send My Love”. Something to keep you from falling too deep into the darkness. Though not lyrically a happy song, it feels loads lighter than its predecessor. The album is back and forth like this. Leading you to the ledge, but putting a safety net out to keep you from diving to impending doom.
“Endless Vision” falls back to similar stylings of “Send My Love”, with more guitar driven music, drifting into deeper emotional undertones. It doesn’t grip you the same, but still, it puts you into its grasp. This one, being an original, shows you that this sound isn’t something that was a one off. Justin Jennings has a way of putting the right words to the moment, regardless of the stylings “Flaunt” is pumping out.
Reaching the end of the album, you want more, but feel pretty satisfied with what was given. “Endless Vision” feels like closure, but also a bit of a cliffhanger. The word is, that they are currently working on wrapping a new album due for release in 2017. I hope some of these sounds spill over into that cup, because they have branched onto something stronger than previous releases. Going from a mainly instrumental band, to the experimentation of Rave Noir, then migrating to The Antics of More Youthful Times”, shows a group that has much to show the world. Taking the album name into consideration though, it raises an important question. Is this growth, or is this a throwback to earlier stylings that have been abandoned? I hope it’s growth, because it sounds strong, catchy, and feels very well put together for a group in the early stages of moving forward in their successful careers.