Flare Acoustic Arts League

Flare Acoustic Arts League

Flare Acoustic Arts League

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Affairs of the Heart

For such a fey, delicate voice, LD Beghtol is an absolute mountain of a man, looking more like a distaff member of Crowbar or Weedeater than a crafter of ornate, vulnerable chamber-pop passion plays that have more in common with Cole Porter than Calvin Johnson. And yet Beghtol has been raising the bar on this pop music gaffe for years now, honing the impeccably poised sounds of Flare, and aiding and abetting one of the few with as finely developed a sense of sonic existential anguish as he, Steven Fucking Merrit of the Magnetic Fields. Commonality can be found with bossman Merrit (no shit), Owen Ashworth from Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Morrissey, and Brian Wilson at his personal.

Flare is music for those who want clever, literate, dramatic as fuck, quirky, self-indulgent gold sounds but from a more American slant. Am I the only one who thinks Belle & Sebastian are a little too much like the Are You Being Served series? Where does that leave people for whom every moment is steeped in deep dramatic potential, those given to sighing dolefully throughout the day, those for whom even slicing bread (do people even slice bread anymore?) places you on the precipice of potential tragedy? Flare is here for you with an understanding nod, and an orchestral swoon.

In Beghtol’s songs more is more — pianos, strings, percussion, organs, keyboards, mandolins, accordions, woodwind, numerous guitars, echo chambers, horns, glockenspiel, harpsichord, whole backing choirs all provide a pillow of velvety, angular melancholy for Beghtol’s eminently tuneful, little boy lost vocals. “Funeral Games” is a sad drift of mandolin and accordion, over which Bengtol tearfully advises, “Hum to yourself when you’re sad/and avoid abstract nouns.” The musical Rube Goldberg machine of “Precis,” has all these disparate, strange little instrumental snatches merge together into ragbag torch wonder. “Judas Kiss” is like Radiohead arranged for the court of the Sun King — choice! Also recommended is the joyous group sunburst of “Hands of Fire,” an avalanche of exuberant performances and the Spector-aping second movement of “4F.” And is that a Poppy Z Brite shout-out in the midst of “Pull My Daisy Chain’s” thirty seconds worth of glee club choir hijinks?

Affairs of the Heart: affairsoftheheart.de

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