For fans of Beach House, Cocteau Twins, Cigarettes After Sex and Slowdive. For songwriting duo Joey Cobb and Katie Drew of White Flowers, one of the most exciting young bands in the UK right now, it was only on leaving London to return to their native Preston that the dark-hued dreampop of their debut album, Day By Day, began to crystalize. The pair had left Preston for London to study at art college, and it was there that they first began to explore the nascent psych scene bubbling under in the few remaining arts-orientated spaces in the east of the city. It soon inspired them to begin work on music of their own.
The pair found that by using equipment they barely understood, they produced their most innovative work. Beginning on GarageBand, they crafted loops that turned into songs, and by the time theyd worked out how to use it, theyd graduated to a drum machine.
Now very much in control, and with a clear and determined focus, the pair began producing music that, whilst leaning into the Norths post-punk past, possessed a vision and depth informed by their own post-industrial Preston experiences. Creating all of their artwork, visuals and overall aesthetic, they began building a world that stretched beyond the music alone in an unusual circular fashion, this auteurist-like approach became a way of translating their environment and experiences into a form of escapism from the very place that inspired them.
Nonetheless, it was shortly before leaving London that another creative breakthrough occurred. While performing a small show as a support act, a fan in the audience, impressed by the wall of noise that would frequently extend for minutes at the end of tracks, suggested they work with a like-minded friend. Within weeks, the pair were recording at the Manchester studio of Jez Williams, erstwhile member of Doves.
Williams and Manchester immediately made sense, and its that industrial gothic that White Flowers were able to tap into as they built the album during on-off sessions across two years sometimes leaving the studio for a couple of months to work on ideas, other times crafting the minutiae of details across all-night studio sessions.
The access to flexible studio time was telling, and the band were able to develop an aesthetic that, whilst indebted to the various sounds that defined their youth, also leaned heavily into Kevin Shields droning wall of noise guitars, the palimpsestic hauntology of early Burial, and the ghost box sampleadelia of Boards of Canada.
We like the more alien sounds explains Joey, where the focus is on creating atmosphere. This is perhaps most obvious on the album title track, one of the more sonically enticing tracks on the record with its pulsing drone and Portishead-esque rhythm, or even Night Drive, a live favourite that the pair take pride in building into a monstrous wall of sound.
Daylight pushes forward with a prettiness matched by Katies oblique, near-glossolalia vocal. We dont like it when things are clean or overproduced explains Katie, and theres something interesting in the instinctive nature of the first thing you sing, because you dont really know what youre singing until it comes out and it makes sense. That psychographic-style process to writing informs a collection of songs that are at once both intuitive and fully-formed.
The oldest song on the record, Help Me Help Myself, bears witness to this approach. Perhaps their most direct and perfect pop song to date, it suggests these songs were always there within, just waiting to be divined. "Wed just started using drum machines and theres something of a naïve quality to it, explains Katie, though its naivety has now been augmented by Jez Williams impossibly diaphanous production.
The constant upheaval of, well, everything has fed directly into Day By Day. The songs on the album were written from when we were teenagers up to our early 20s, so its come of age in this weird apocalyptic time, says Katie. Everythings surrounded by uncertainty notes Joey, "but it isnt all doom and gloom, there are positives, rules are out the window and you can do what you want. Theres some hope in there.