The Celophane Flower "In Their Best Album So Far" (Flower Productions 2006)

Review by Michael Berick

This disc is an instance where you can't judge the music from the booklet. With its humorously boastful title In Their Best Album So Far and the booklet's fun faux bios, one gets the sense that the Celophane Flower is some type of jokey rock band. But that's far from the truth. The opening notes of Wishing You Well instantly transport the listener to the lush pastoral world that served the Jayhawks so well. The veteran Swedish folk-rockers maintain this languid, melancholic mood throughout this disc, for better or for worse. At their best, the band builds gorgeous, harmony-rich tunes that hold a marvelous transcendent quality. Stay The Night, featuring guitarist/singer Jim Bradge dueting with guest vocalist Asa Skytt, is a whispered wish to have someone stay overnight. The Sadness In Your Eyes, a gentle, finger-picked guitar number, stands out as a haunting love ode. A pulsating string arrangement propels the orchestral chamber folk tune Now That I Found Myself. This song exemplifies the band's tendency to balance pretty music with downbeat lyrics ("Now that I found myself/I realize that life was better before."). Occasionally, the group shifts up into mid-tempo, such as in the all-too-brief Oh Brother and the twangy 2 AM, which has a Love The One You're With vibe. The album closer, Best In Life has a grand ebb and flow to it that gives it an epic feel as it swells to a noisy (at least for this disc) crescendo. The guitar feedback creates some ripples in the album's otherwise tranquil tone. The record's main shortcoming, in fact, is its overall laidback feel that causes a sense of sameness to creep in. Still, the Celophane Flower have certainly created a terrific sounding disc, perhaps indeed "their best album so far." They prove that orchestral Americana can bloom beautifully even in far-off Sweden.