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Flock of Dimes’ Return to ‘Head of Roses’

On April 18, 2022
Photo by Shervin Lainez

Every week, we tell you about an album we think you need to spend time with. This week’s album is Flock of Dimes’ follow up to her 2021 album, a collection of live performances, covers and unreleased demos, Head of Roses: Phantom Limb

Flock of Dimes became Jenn Wasner’s answer to an individual call for liberation from what she had already sonically established alongside Andy Stack as one half of Wye Oak. It’s a project that has drastically scurried away from the instrumentally driven sound of the duo and buried itself in the more experimental, electronic aspects of music, but, above all, is driven by Wasner’s evocative vocals. Away from the heavier style of Wye Oak’s rich music, Wasner tones down the backdrop noise to allow for her own voice to cut through the ambiance.

When she released Head of Roses in 2021, it was a full-length album, but at the same time, far from complete. There was more story to be told that the 10 tracks could not possibly fully cover. Her response? Head of Roses: Phantom Limb, a collection of select live performances, covers and unheard demos which were written around the same time as the album’s predecessor. As many artists, and simply every part of humanity, experienced the quiet isolation the pandemic brought on, it spurred Wasner to reexamine her own identity amid heartbreak and what it meant to rediscover herself, all among the company of friends, who gave their own contributions to the album. 

Among the first demos from the album, Wasner begins with the atmospheric strums of “It Just Goes On,” the first single released from Head of Roses: Phantom Limb. Written after the album was initially completed, it serves as “a sort of epilogue,” which meditates on a number of variations of the question, “What if?” “If it never started / It doesn't have to end / It just goes on,” she sings in one of the verses. While Wasner spends time with these considerations, she gives her own responses, with an understanding that the circumstances surrounding heartbreak are unchanging.

In her follow up, “Go With Good,” she allows herself to escape into a territory of optimism. The song dances with airiness and glistens in a space of dreams, with lyrics blurring into one another while Wasner’s backing vocals form silhouettes to fully allow other areas to shine. On the other end of the spectrum, her next single, “Through Me,” released around the same time as the original Head of Roses, delivers a more concrete set of instrumentals than a number of other songs on the album. It projects a dichotomy from the song’s lyrical contents, where she explained: “‘Through Me’ is about losing sight of yourself in an attempt to find someone else, twisting your perception of reality until you’re not sure how to find your way back to what is real.”

Even in between new songs, Flock of Dimes revisits familiar favorites from the 2021 album in their live renditions, including performances at NPR Music’s Tiny Desk, Sylvan Esso’s record studio Betty’s, KEXP and more. While in theory, they are nothing new, it’s far from reality. They distill the kind of perfection that is rendered from a studio, laying all of her raw emotions, as they are, unembellished — a privilege that may not have otherwise been possible to hear without the additions to the record. 

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Jillian Nguyen

Jillian's origin story began with jam sessions to early 2000s Eurodance tunes, resulting in her current self-proclamations as an EDM aficionado. Jillian has followed her favorite artists to over 15 music festivals and countless concerts.

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