I remember when I was in middle school and The Postal Service came out with “Such Great Heights.” I was familiar already with Ben Gibbard from his work with Death Cab, but this collaboration was my first exposure to the possibilities of two artists creating together while not necessarily being in the same place. I think I’d be strongly mistaken if I said I was the only one affected by The Postal Service’s rapid rise to mainstream success, and the collective adolescent angst empathetically expressed in their music was one many of my friends felt too.
FLAUNT is a two-man group founded as a result of social media. Justin Jennings and Joseph Vitterito, while hailing originally from Colorado and Maine, formed the band together with the goal to “create song cycles in the day and age where the album has been declared ‘dead’.”
They accomplished this goal with aplomb with their release “Rave Noir,” a massive 17-song double album. The album is eclectic, diverse, and wonderfully rich in influences. The multitude of musical styles placates the album’s intimidating length, and the result is a listenable, fascinating exploration of electro-pop, rock, indie, and hip hop.
Opening track “Rave On” demonstrates the band’s chameleon genre, with a trippy synth opening and tribal vocal harmonies. By track #3 “Restraint,” FLAUNT introduce rock electric guitars and octave vocals which render the beginning of the album difficult to define.
I’m beginning to sound like the only notable feature of the album is its genre-bending range, and so I’ll stop describing all the different styles (but you really should check out track #13 “You Sure Know How to Hurt Someone” to hear a fascinating mix of doo wop and electronic) and focus instead on what makes the album work.
There isn’t a large depth of lyrical adventurousness, but FLAUNT’s songs are direct and uncomplicated. To be honest, the lack of uniformity in the album’s genre is refreshing in part because the lyrics are unchallenging, and a combination of musical and lyrical density might have rendered Rave Noir difficult to digest.
Justin’s vocals are well-performed, and his range is showcased well, with rich low notes in the harmonies and a passionate higher tessitura that serves the compact backing tracks well. FLAUNT’s choruses are lush, catchy, and wisely restrained, and in genres which usually hammer their hooks down one’s esophagus, the fewer use of hooks and choruses is charmingly hospitable.
The album reminded me most of Bloc Party, who for years have redefined and reworked their sound, never settling on one niche but instead pushing themselves to create innovative melodies and interesting songs. There are some misses on Rave Noir – the rapping on track #5 “Messiah” was, frankly, weird after the choral opening – but for the majority of the album the adventurousness of its creators makes the creation itself fun, interesting, and effective.
The duo’s mission of making a song cycle was successful. Rave Noir is a massive endeavor, and the musical diversity, creativity, and imagination on display show FLAUNT at their best.
In an age when albums have been declared dead, when social media often overshadows sociability in general, when people text instead of calling, and when people watch shows through their phone’s camera, there is still one good outcome: the social media meeting of Justin and Joseph, and the albums they’re going to create.
1. Rave On
2. I Don't Wanna Fall Asleep
6. I Haven't Thought About You Yet
7. This Is What Happens When You Let Me Down
9. Kill With Honey
10. Didn't Know It Would Be This Way
11. Comfort For The Bad People
12. Love Run
13. You Sure Know How To Hurt Someone
15. I Love The Ghost That Lives Inside Of You
16. Last 9 Words
17. Your Hate Is Killing Me
18.I Haven't Thought About You Yet