Jane Weaver: Flock & Sunset Dreams

I think it’s safe to say that Flock will be one of my ten favorite records of the year and Sunset Dreams expands on that vibe. 

by Marshall Bowden

The last time I developed a deep seated love of an album after a single  listen it was Air’s electropop exercise Moon Safari. The melodies, the synths, the sunny space pop lyrics, the Bacharach-inspired horns, it was all so much of a piece that I fell head over heels with the album. That is the same quick level of comfort that I developed with Jane Weaver’s album Flock and its follow up EP Sunset Dreams as well.

At times Weaver has reminded me of Beth Orton, mixing a folkish pop songwriting style with studio dance music technology. At other times she’s more like Dido or Robyn, and, yes, Kylie Minogue, though that lazy comparison has been made a little too frequently by mainstream music press. But things are seldom as one-dimensional as they may be portrayed. For example, “Solarised,”one of Weaver’s singles from the album, first and most obviously evokes a disco/club beat but what’s underneath that is a wash of pure kosmiche synth that warms things up a bit from your standard dance club track.

At other times Weaver is influenced by German films, her Roland Guitar Synthesizer, Toni Basil, Don Cherry, Lynne Goldsmith, and birds, all according to a recently published chat with Brooklyn Vegan

What a list like this reveals to we, the listeners, is that Jane Weaver is always exploring, always curious to lift the next cultural sonic rock to see what sounds might be lurking there, waiting to be cast in a new light. It doesn’t ultimately matter where all these sounds and songs come from. What really matters is that Flock and its newly released companion EP, Sunset Dreams, sound like a fresh dose of something many listeners have been waiting for.

Flock is not such an outrageous departure from its immediate predecessors, Modern Kosmology (2017) and Loops In the Secret Society (2019), but the songs are a bit more quickly. appreciated due to the soaring melodies, background vocals, and pop structures. After a few listens you’ll feel like these songs are familiar old friends, and you’ll actively crave hearing them again. 

The opener, “Heartflow,” is an exercise in writing a sunny pop song with lyrics that are anything but, and it sets the tone for Flock. “The Revolution of Supervisions” has drawn a lot of comparisons to Prince, and you can hear it (mostly in the guitar), but I definitely hear the influence of St. Vincent as well, a fact that has gone unremarked in the reviews that I have read. It makes sense for Jane Weaver to have been influenced by Annie Clark, but for many tastemakers that’s ignored in favor of more familiar, male influences. 

When I hear the influence of Kate Bush in some of Weaver’s vocals or that some of her electro dance pop reminds me of Robyn, I don’t meant that she sounds overly much like these artists, but that she has clearly absorbed some of their ideas and is making records that resonate within the cultural boundaries defined by some of them. 

Sunset Dreams is a thirty minute or so EP featuring remixes or reinterpretations of tracks from Flock as well as a couple of tunes not included on that record (“The Lexical Distance” and “Don’t Tell Me I’m Wrong”), and it’s a nice revisit to Flock’s sonic universe. It’s worth having, but it’s not Amnesiac next to Flock ‘s Kid A, and so not essential. But I’ve purchased both from Bandcamp because I think it’s safe to say that Flock will be one of my ten favorite records of the year and Sunset Dreams expands on that vibe. 

Coda

Weirdly, I spent some time this Halloween season  watching the British series Hammer House of Horror, an anthology of horror stories co-produced by the famous Hammer Horror studio. I was reading an interview with Jane Weaver online at kiyimuzik.com from March of this year, and here she is talking about the same series: 

I love all the Hammer TV series. I used to be really frightened of them so would avoid certain episodes and films when I was a kid. ‘The House that bled to death’ was always scary and ‘Charley Boy’ about a cursed African sculpture. ‘The Devil Rides out’ is a film I didn’t see until I was an adult. I love retro horror films, Dario Argento and horror thrillers like Polanski’s ‘Rosemary’s Baby’. I think the best horror I’ve seen in recent years is ‘Hereditary’. I also enjoyed the remake of ‘Suspiria’.

For a horror and music fan, I don’t know what could have cemented my excitement at finding a new artist whose music resonated so deeply with me than finding another bond that seems so random.

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