Put all of those Postal Service comparisons to rest. Seriously. Though it has only been two years since New Sense’s self-titled E.P., which came six months on the heels of Postal Service’s Give Up and was haunted by it in reviews, the band essentially dispels these comparisons with Flowers Before Hours. This EP boasts fewer loops and more straightforward guitar work in its progression from the last, and in the moments when Flowers Before Hours does warrant that mysterious “dance pop” moniker, when the Postal Service comparisons are perhaps the most valid, New Sense is at its weakest. This only begins to explain the inevitable misrepresentation of New Sense based on its short existence.
Flowers Before Hours shows the breadth of New Sense in condensed form. Though the band has mysteriously only released two EPs, it has clearly begun coming out of its shell. Like its father band Decibully once did, New Sense has begun to break the mold of its “side project” status, boasting the strength to maintain its own entity. From the first notes of “What If I Get Sick”, the EP’s lead track, the band’s penchant for incredibly catchy guitars emerges and immediately one-ups itself with a blistering and energetic chorus. The structure is as tight and filled-in as we can expect of any pop band.
“Ready to Leave” demonstrates interesting interplay between the band’s organic and electronic elements, delivering a manic, electronic musical base layered with noodling acoustic guitars. Flowers Before Hours is full of potential in a way that begins to challenge the norms of popular music like many other bands have been doing for years. The problem, though, is that nothing hits quite hard enough. New Sense is getting there, but we need something more substantial—a full length, perhaps—to prove the potential is legitimate. Otherwise, the appearance is one of a band whose output is not more than five to seven songs at a time, destined to remain simply a side project. This might be the case, but frankly many of the directions in which Flowers Before Hours points represent more exciting and progressive moves than Decibully’s output has suggested.
New Sense’s sound is probably too simple for the average indie rocker searching for bands fraying the edges of established sounds. Flowers Before Hours does not present music made for the indie junkies. Rather, the band walks a fine line between underground experimentation and loveably radio-ready structure. There are moments that earn spots following bands like Maroon 5 on top-40 radio, but there are also moments—sometimes even in the same song—that find New Sense deconstructing the predictability of such an institution.
William J. Seidel’s vocals are earnest and soulful, a key ingredient for the smoothness of New Sense’s concoction. The loops New Sense does incorporate into Flowers Before Hours represent an appreciated subtlety. These loops seem like mere musical whispers but they deliver big, adding shimmering qualities to relatively straightforward songs, the result of which is a shoegazer subtext to an already engaging sound. It’s hard to hear Flowers Before Hours as anything but a mixed bag, though. There is strength in the playing but that’s not necessarily enough. Cohesion is necessary and is sometimes hard to come by, here.
New Sense has a decision to make and that decision is how far, and where, to take this sound: it’s been splayed out for us and then it was drawn back in, the result of which is two E.P.‘s that sound essentially like different bands. New Sense has evolved from existing as performers of re-worked, electronically pulsed version of abandoned Camden songs. The problem is figuring out what exactly the band has evolved into: I don’t know, and it doesn’t seem like they know, either.