A crafted, finely honed, and hugely impressive debut...
'The Loved Ones'

Flyte haven’t rushed their debut. It’s been well over three years and a million views since they uploaded a video of two of the London four-piece performing Joni Mitchell’s ‘River’ on Facebook.

Then followed radio silence, punctuated only by their sell-out club night ‘Chasing Heaven’ and beautiful cover versions of tracks by the likes of David Bowie, Arcade Fire and Mac Demarco. Beneath the surface, a metamorphosis was afoot. Working with Courtney Barnett producer Burke Reid, they were busy evolving their sound into something altogether more substantial, and the results are astounding.

There’s a classicism to the songwriting that means comparisons to The Beatles and at times The Beach Boys are unavoidable; but make no mistake – this album is no retrospective. The effect is transformative; so often you are at once hoodwinked into an odd sense of nostalgia for absolutely nothing in particular and compelled by its modernism.

Single ‘Victoria Falls’ is an excellent example of this; beginning with a kind of rhythmic muted echo — as if taken straight from the multi-storey car park in which they recorded Alvvays cover and album closer ‘Archie, Marry Me’. Before long, though, the track sees Flyte at their most gloriously unabashed — indulging themselves completely in just a few simple melodies before taking a complete left turn into a psychedelic middle eight. This structural nod to the classics is just one of so many moments that lends this ultimately modernist record such timelessness.

Lyrically ambitious, ‘The Loved Ones’ seeks to confront the listener with darker themes such as alcoholism, domestic abuse and mental illness, belied by the silken four-part vocal harmony arrangements that tie the album together. Album stand-out ‘Cathy Come Home’ does just that; weaving a tale of domestic abuse from the point of view of the victim’s parents among blissful melodies. The track then subsides into the quiet delicacy of ‘Orphans Of The Storm’, followed by the spine-tingling synth melody of ‘Sliding Doors’, which will haunt you for weeks (unless of course you’re unable to shake off the eponymous refrain from ‘Little White Lies’).

There are quieter, less immediate moments on ‘The Loved Ones’, sure, but never filler. This is the kind of album that’ll offer up a new favourite track with every single listen. ‘Echoes’ is a prime example of this; played in the background it’s so unassumingly pleasant you’d miss it. But listen again, and you just might find yourself completely captivated by its otherworldly dreaminess.

Flyte’s sound has changed completely; their boyish charm finding a new home in richly textured new territory. Taking the the time to craft, to hone and to consider has clearly paid off; resulting in an album that truly commands that same duty of care from the listener. ‘The Loved Ones’ is one to revisit.

8/10

Words: Lewis Lister

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