Danish-based Vinyl Floor not only channels the decorative vibe of your great aunt’s kitchen in 1969, but they play a mix of alternative-cum-melodic rock firmly entrenched in the sensibilities of that moment. Comprised of two brothers, Charlie and Daniel Pedersen – both of whom alternate vocal duties – the band count Funhouse Mirror as their fifth LP. Of note, the music pushes “experimental and symphonic expression,” thus harkening back to the warmer tones of the group’s earlier efforts. As a bonus, it also features support from known quantities like Bebe Risenfors (horns/percussion/organ), Rob Stoner (bass) and Christian Ellegaard (strings). Respectively, these musicians have loaned their talents to heavy hitters as varied as Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. Because even vinyl – like its cousins linoleum, Formica and shag – can surprise with touches of class.
Barreling headlong, the opening cut “Anything You Want” is a punch in the gut, courtesy of an excitable Elvis Costello-type riff. The immediacy of the piece shatters melodic expectation without reverting to the needless bombast of prog. Which is to say, the tune boasts uniqueness yet shuns exclusivity. “Between The Lines” slows the tempo. Toeing the line between Oasis and Ben Folds, the track floats like a piano-driven daydream. Not to mention, it drifts nicely into “Dear Apollon,” a message to the god of liberal arts curricula, via delicate keys and Queen dandification.
Much of the first two-thirds of the record maintains this sonic blueprint. For the visually inclined, it might bear a resemblance to parasol twirlers and big bloomers. For everyone else, it’s a jovial romp through bright phrasing, bubbly choruses and occasional harmonics. Case in point: “Ever, The Optimist” sounds like Ringo Starr covering XTC, before an extended horn jam conjures the spirit of Dave Matthews. And “Funhouse Mirror,” the title track, pays homage to Mott The Hoople, albeit with light fuzz on the guitar solo.
Of note, the final three tracks excel beyond mere competence, packing the light-in-the-fly sounds of yore with extra heft. In other words, the brothers have let out their inseams. And we, as listeners, are escorted behind the titular looking glass. It’s a just reward after lending our collective attention for 25 minutes, even if the decision to bury these gems behind seven earlier offerings of flip eccentricity is, well, unorthodox.
Namely, “Death of a Poet” meshes Beethoven’s long-out-of-copyright ‘Moonlight Sonata’ with an inspirationally rousing chorus that, at times, teeters nervously into Scott Stapp territory. “Stare, Scare” casts a menacing injection of electronic energy; a razor-sharp, layered chassis of synthetic drive that zig-zags with metallic undertones. When paired with a rich baritone – channeling post-punk revivalists White Lies – the song truly blossoms. Likewise, “Days” closes the LP with a gorgeous (yet interestingly syllabic) melody. It’s a textured lullaby at heart, imploding in a contoured, nearly looping outro. Alas, the only weakness to this final trio is the under-reliance of Daniel Pedersen’s grunge tipped vocals; welcomingly gruff yet delicate.
Still, it was an absolute treat to gaze through – and eventually step into – that mirror. Admission well spent, a perfect day, a fairground reverie in gin-clear glass.
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