The second release from electronic/soul/pop group The Seshen, Flames & Figures mixes a solid oldies vibes with modern mainstream appeal, yet despite some very strong tracks, the album generally suffers from monotony in its attitude and aura.
The keys and drums are the strongest elements on the disc, from the beginning to the end. Opener “Distant Heart” comes in with drums that recall the dance and groove vibe of clubs in Miami in the 70s; it’s like disco, but with a strong sense of socializing. Afterward, the next two tracks, “Spectacle” and “Other Spaces”, venture into areas a little off the beaten path with samples and heavier percussion. The sound then takes one more turn as the drums begin to follow a more hip hop oriented energy with tracks such as “Periphery”. These styles sometimes go back and forth throughout the collection, but many of their core elements (drums, percussion, and keys) remain very similar. With these three different sounds, one would think that the album oozes lovely variety, and while that is true instrumentally the vocals often work against the magic.
There is no denying that both vocalists (Lalin St. Juste and Kasha Rockland) have incredibly beautiful voices. However, the problem is that they never truly change. Rather, they’re always eased and always following the same pattern, song after song (so even though there tends to be variety with the compositions, we already know what to expect halfway into the album since we’ve gone through the same formula already). The vocals all also too dreamy and, when combined with common drumming throughout the album, make for an almost mind-numbing experience since it comes off as so relaxing. That being said, when a track that is quite different pops up—like “Already Gone” and “Flames & Figures”—it makes for a genuinely fun, rocking time. The more laid back songs are great as well; the only issue is that there are just too many of them.
Flames & Figures would make for a good instrumental album, as it packs plenty of variety that would make for great background party music. As far as the vocals are concerned, an artist always has his or her style, and what The Seshen have with Flames & Figures is a good stepping stone for stronger albums since the talent is there. Here, the Seshen made a great attempt at creating an album with sounds they know and are good at; really, it is in those sounds themselves that they will forge a core, and their path will hopefully branch out into a larger collective of beautiful sounds.