Flora Ocean Tiger Bloom


In The Red, 2024


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Meatbodies’ third album 333 was something of a detour, reflecting the state of mind of its bandmembers at the time, but they have returned to their rock and shoegaze roots on their newest offering. Only this time, the sound is more confident and more indebted to alt-rock, influences that beef up the sound (and song length) this time.

The result is the band’s best work, and one hopes it brings them wider acclaim.

Like the best shoegaze albums, Flora is able to suck in the listener, weaving a colorful mosaic of kaleidoscopic color within its wall of guitars, from the great opener “The Assignment” right through the Smashing Pumpkins-indebted “Hole.” There’s actually a strong presence of early ’90s rock throughout the disc, not only from Corgan’s crew but also My Bloody Valentine, Jane’s Addiction and Lush. Given that the best work from these artists is now 30 years old, it stands to reason that today’s bands would use them as touchstones, and it is exciting to hear how that approach to sonic world-building plays out among this L.A. quartet. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Silly Cybin” seems like one of those odes to drugs that’s actually not (think Clapton’s take on “Cocaine”), and infuses its rather inane lyrics with some great guitar work, both riffage and solos; it also has enough pop smarts to get out after three and a half minutes. “Billow” is to Jane’s Addiction what “Hole” was to the Pumpkins; unlike the latter, though, it’s too close to an homage to really register as its own song. When all one can think of is another singer, a band hasn’t overcome its influences, fun as it is to revisit the short-lived godfathers of alternative rock.

“They Came Down” starts off with some promising classic rock riffs but turns into a generic, late-period Sabbath song, but the seven-minute “Move” is better, riding a surf-rock-meets-shoegaze feel that chugs along happily, with all the aforementioned influences finally coming together into a heady stew. Think Sonic Youth, but cheerful and less atonal, and you’re sort of there. It’s a rip.

Although neither one is truly successful, the acoustic “Criminal Minds” and the Stooges-esque wonky horn solo in the middle of “ICNNVR2” showcase the brimming creativity here. “Return Of Ecstasy” is a droning instrumental that serves as the long introduction to closer “Gate,” a showcase of confident, muscular rock with some Who-like influences on top of everything else.

The result is an hour-long sonic adventure, teeming with energy and life, infusing many rock styles and, if not creating something totally new with them, having a great time playing again. Given the upheaval in frontman Chad Ubovich’s life over the last few years, it was clear that music was his oasis, the calm within the storm, and that passion and energy plays out throughout this disc. Worth several listens to fully absorb, Flora Ocean Tiger Bloom is one of the better rock albums of 2024 so far.

Rating: B+

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