Floral Tattoo – ‘You Can Never Have a Long Enough Head Start’

Jeff Cubbison

Washington garage rockers drop the first great album of the new decade

Floral Tattoo is a garage rock band from Kirkland, Washington that blends elements of punk, folk, and indie with a feverish heart-on-your-sleeve spirit. Their music captures coming-of-age narratives through the lens of trans/queer identity, and their songs are bleary-eyed tapestries full of soaring choruses, crunchy guitars, and infectious melodies. Just a few days ago, the band dropped their stunning sophomore LP You Can Never Have a Long Enough Head Start – the follow-up to last year’s promising Becoming Bearable – and it’s the first great album of the new decade.

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It opens on the spoken-word thesis statement “Foreword” – in which Floral Tattoo spotlights the steadfastness of the LGBTQ community – before fading into the rousing lead single “Life In Color.” Here, accordion-infused melodies and reverb-soaked guitars conjure expansive lo-fi soundscapes that unfurl in endlessly pensive ways. The anthemic, rollicking garage-punk stomper “She” is a poignant track with lyrics that tackle the angst over an uncertain future, but with a dash of hope that suggests that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel: “To a new day, say hey, drink up while you can/ This water is something you need to survive/ I’m afraid to admit it but i guess that I’ll admit that/ I don’t know where I’m going or what I’m gonna do with my life.” Catchy lo-fi riffs, pounding, pulsating drums, and warm vocal harmonies round out this stratospheric track, one of the emotional high points on Head Start. Meanwhile, the crashing ballad “Oar House” washes over you with maximum emotional release, ebbing and flowing between stretches of sparse meditation and towering crescendos of shoegaze.

There’s a journey of struggle and perseverance brimming through every single chord on Head Start; the members of Floral Tattoo pour just about every ounce of themselves into this record. The rest of the album oscillates between frenetic folk experimentations (“Don’t Try Things,” “Redding Forest Fire / Fermi”) and wondrous, winded garage anthems (“Danny, Be Well,” “My Life Fell Apart This Year”) with chameleonic ease. Overall, You Can Never Have a Long Enough Head Start is a cathartic musical journey that will hopefully garner Floral Tattoo the attention they deserve. “It’s kind of about growing up, kind of about being trans, kind of about getting better, and kind of about arson,” they shared on Facebook. In any case, it’s a vital listen. You can purchase the album HERE and preview it below via Bandcamp.

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