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Synth Album Review: "A Cup of Good Smelling Coffee" by Flamingo Jones

Author:

Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing!

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Initial Impressions

Flamingo Jones’ A Cup of Good Smelling Coffee takes a unique approach to synth-based music that incorporates a broad range of influences and musical ideas. The sonic story told by this album is both aching and wistful. Flamingo Jones keeps my ears ready to hear the story unfold through the richness of his music.

One of the main features that draws me to this album is the varied sonic palette that Flamingo Jones uses. There are a whole range of synths that sometimes glow and sometimes feel sharper and harder, but even more interesting are the different acoustic, organic elements that he brings to the music. There’s piano that can be jazzy or gentle and guitar with unique tones from warmer and rounder to funkier that also add their own voices to the tracks.

Speaking of voices, Flamingo Jones adds vocals that are introspective and soft-spoken but the lyrics they express have their own individual qualities that express some part of the artist’s personality, showing a fresh view of the world. They aren’t long songs but they do express a emotive quality that I find engaging.

I enjoy the genre-hopping of this album as well. There are times when it channels New Wave music, others that have a jazz influence and sometimes there’s even a little touch of something on the folksier end of the spectrum. The end result is indeed a tasty auditory brew to nourish the ears.

Track-by-Track Breakdown

“A Cup Of Good Smelling Coffee” starts off with a swirling mist of synths and the steady tick of percussion before a hard hitting drumbeat shapes the music along with a ‘50s style ad voice over for good smelling coffee. A steady, distorted synth pulse and a repeating darkly trumpeting, sharp edged musical line also moves through along with bright, slightly edgy sounds. A melodic synth line wriggles through before a synth that is like a shiny xylophone carries a thready line of sound.

A stuttering beat and dark, hard sounds roil below the more elevated elements. I enjoy the use of shattered vocals threading in and out of the music, adding an oddly unsettling feeling to the track. There’s a dense thickness to the growling pulses of synth before a drifting segment and again the vocal sample, the breaking beat and the high flash of synth.

The soft drift of water and a full, caressing piano opens “Flamingos Love Waterpools.” The piano carries warmly rising notes and delicate chords as the vocals float through the background and there’s a full, fuzzy noise accompanying unique metallic sounds. Round, circling synths flare in a steadily moving pattern and the beat guides the track forward along with a pulse of medium low synth and the gentle vocals.

I enjoy the hazy, relaxing sensations that permeate the music along with the intriguing percussion as a deep, shifting bass line moves in. A synthesizer with a flaring glow burst into the music and there's a serene flow to the rising, drifting line of synth that echoes through before the waves flow into silence.

The lyrics are a wistful expression of life changing and time passing as they say,”You can blame it on me. You know in time we'll leave it all behind, it wasn't meant to be. You’ll never feel the sunlight or hear the song.”

“Campfire Feels” kicks off with wandering jazzy piano and adds adds some funky strings to the mix along with a high, distant sound. A solid beat hits the track and a smooth, roaming line of medium high synth flows over the gliding drumbeat that shapes the track.

A floating, glimmering synth line slips over open background as the ultra-cool guitar sound flickers in and through the track. I like how laid back and jazz inflected this particular campfire is. It gives me an impression of extreme calm and I think we all need a bit of that these days!

A drippy, steady pulse and echoing vocals drifts into open space as the caressing, easily gliding lead synth glows as “Stephanie Leaves the Marketplace” comes into being. The melody that is full, all encompassing and full of smooth touches as the vocals also lightly move through the music.

I’m drawn to the ringing, round guitar tone as it carries the soothing melody that adds to the caring, dreaming feeling that permeates the track. Light and air imbue every aspect of the music. The emotional content of the lyrics is complemented by the feelings in the music. There’s a reverberating, echoing sound gliding through the open spaces of the track before it breaks to gentle sounds.

There’s a wistful beauty to the words as the narrator asks, “Don't you know I'm still with you?” as he remembers the sight of “sunlight shining off the moon.” I get the feeling that the person he’s talking about when he says, “As Stephanie leaves the marketplace, I see that look on your face” is himself in another life.

“A Gentle Agitation” comes to life with an easy going, sliding sensation as chimes swirl through the music and bird song is joined by the simple brightness of the laid back, relaxing melody as a shimmer of chimes again moves along with round, metallic sounds.

Gentle, shifting piano chords and splashing sound glide into the track before a tech-y round and distorted synth and cascading, singing full sounds like tuned metal shift with the steady throb of the drums. There’s one more shift to a computerized, hard sound and then silence ensues.

A smooth and easily throbbing beat shifts underneath a slightly twangy and jazzy guitar to start off "An Evening Stroll” as a flow of wind blows through the track. Flamingo Jones’ voice, soft and whispering, moves through the open background. I enjoy the impressions of a forlorn and lonely wanderer, tempting to just give in.

Full, slightly shadowed synths drift over the smooth drums and the beat grows stronger under descending piano chords. The tempo picks up, propelling the track with more energy as a fuzzy guitar tone carries notes that extend into the track.

A profound, deep sadness fills the lyrics of this song. A sense of emptiness and desolation fills the lines that start “join me for an evening stroll” and end successively “join me out here in the cold…join me out here among the ghosts.”

There’s a sense of peace and resignation in the verse, “You can rest upon the ground and sleep forever when you've found me” and even a feeling of something inviting in the words, “We can talk oh so profoundly, sleep forever now you've found me.”

“The Lure Of The Ice Flats” comes to life with icy winds over the steady ticking of the drums while clouds of warmer sound flow around the airy rush. The percussion shapes the track slowly as medium-high synth and a hollow reverberating sound shifts in the background.

I am enamoured of the soothing, all encompassing guitar chords that slide into the music. An elevated synth calls out, full and roaming, over the beat that moves in and through the music. A glitchy, static sounding line wriggles through the track over the onrushing air and the drums slip along with a gentle touch.

Conclusion

A Cup Of Good Smelling Coffee is a rather unique, intriguing collection of synth-based music. It has a distinctive quality and a wistful, varied and emotive musical landscape that is laid out in a fresh and ear grabbing way.

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