I sat in on a Skin Flowers practice in 2012 and was blown away by the set they played—a whirlwind of blues riffs, straight-up rock, dashes of funky rhythms—where each well-orchestrated song felt like it had its own personality. The Missoula band’s first full-length, The Royal Familie, translates that experience well. (Instead of record or CD, it’s being released as a poster by artist Adam Lynn with a download code.) You can imagine these psych rock songs being played live to accompany a series of scenes or a menagerie of movies, projected on a cloth screen behind the band. It sounds abstract, but the album also has an old-style country storytelling quality that brings it to earth. The end result is a set of easily likable songs that you can’t help but feel you’ve heard before.
Though each track on The Royal Familie fits a Skin Flowers format, none adhere to a strict style. It’s My Morning Jacket at its spaciest, the Kinks at its funkiest and especially evident on the first and last two tracks. “Brown Shoes” eventually takes on the long-form psych quality that every song on the album could accommodate. Easy as it is to blissfully zone out to these songs, pay attention or you’ll miss the good stuff, like the line in “Brown Shoes:” “Livin’ in a party as big as this, you are still swimmin’ in piss.”
The keys seem to only hit sounds made before 1979, and the background vocals give a gospel feel indicative of the same era of rock. It’s a throwback with keen production, an ensemble of obscure references all vying for attention. My only complaint is that it stops at eight songs. It feels like Skin Flowers has a whole lot more to say.
Skin Flowers plays an album release party Fri., April 25, at 9 PM at Stage 112, with The Hasslers opening. $5.