Often when a reviewer writes about how an act sounds like R.E.M. they refer solely to the harmonies and instrumentation and not to the flailing vocals of Michael Stipe. Sam Densmore’s debut Flowers in June EP oddly reflects R.E.M. in both respects. The melodies are huge, the lyrics begging for a throughway sing-a-long, and Densmore’s vocals unnervingly sound like Stipe’s Northwestern bastard brother. Densmore — already a cult favorite as a member of Portland’s noise quartet, Frequency db — shows a much poppier side on this bouncy four song EP. Besides the dreadful name Densmore has chosen for his band’s name (Silverhawk only reminds me of bad metal bands and Japanese cartoons), I find little at fault with Flowers in June. From the fluidly breathless pop of the title track — complete with pleasantly corny chorus “remember when I picked a flower for you?” — to the blinding wall of sound and the tremendous call-and-answer vocals of “Obsessive (out of tune)” Densmore has weighed in with a record that will surely continue to define my Spring.
Melancholy yet hopeful, Stipe-like but original, and lasting a scant 15 minutes which is just enough time to become enthralled with Densmore’s brand of sentimentality without wishing for something groundbreaking (something Densmore does not aim to provide), Flowers in June is well-suited to these early days of Spring.