Squirrel Flower

Squirrel Flower is in the shallow end of the pool

Reader Rating0 Votes0
3.3

Despite how pretty the picture of moving on from youth that Squirrel Flower paints on I Was Born Swimming is, it often feels out of reach and inaccessible. The stillness of her Boston upbringing takes centre stage on the record, and there is an urge to dive in and be immersed in her memories. Yet, the chance never arises, leaving you only able to look in and admire it from afar.

Never keen to linger in one place for too long, the record is quick to move from idea to idea. Opener ‘I-80’ declares her position, rejecting poetry and giving up on love, soon followed by the longing vocals of ‘Red Shoulder’. The conventions of low-fi and sad indie are prevalent throughout the album, ensuring that the sound is never alienating. But in playing it safe, there is a lack of ambition that curbs the impression it leaves you with. As the short title track closes out the album, the longing for a bit of punch or a firm conclusion is hard to ignore.

At its strongest, the record allows you to pretend your life is enigmatic as its best cuts are. The breathy production of ‘Headlights’, coupled with its beautiful melodies, make it one of the album’s more touching moments. Meanwhile, the hometown rock influence that underlines ‘Streetlight Blues’ solidifies the American setting of the album, as well as delivering some of her best lyrics. Her vocal range on ‘Belly of the City’ is another defining moment, both at once effortless and pained.

Have no doubts, Squirrel Flower’s music has an accomplished finish to it, and I Was Born Swimming is a rounded and well-explored project. There’s a consistently delicate and warm feeling as the gentle instrumentation guides you through stories of house parties, nighttime drives and naive romance, carefully balancing the happy with the sad. Perhaps, however, she wants to convey how fleeting the moments she reminisces about can feel? Much like we are left to be the observers and not the guests of her album’s story, she too can only be an observer to her own memories.

Haiku Review:
Under the water,
Sinking in the shallow end.
Where is my floatie?

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