Bhopal’s Flowers: Joy of the 4th–Album Review
Bhopal’s Flowers: Joy of the 4th–Album Review
Joy Of The 4th is the sunny new release by Bhopal’s Flowers, and the fifth long-play album released by the band since its inception in 2011. A collective of like-minded musicians led by Lionel Pezzano and based in Montreal, Canada, Bhopal’s Flowers is inspired by both Eastern and Western influences in their soulful, sophisticated approach to songcraft.
The album’s first and title track starts mystically with a sultry sitar, which soon succumbs to a piano-driven rock beat. With a breathy voice, the jubilant lyrics hearken to the birth of a beloved baby boy. The basic and merry chorus “ba-ba-ba-bah,” featured ubiquitously in 1960’s pop and surf rock, is effective here in mimicking an infant’s first utterances. A Mediterranean-tinged synthesizer is joined humorously by slide whistle while reprising the “ba-bahs,” seemingly to elicit the infant’s first giggle.
The jubilant lyrics hearken to the birth of a beloved baby boy.
“Summertime” pleasantly features sitar and a jangly Rickenbacker 12-string guitar, painting a paisley wanderland. phased chorus vocals chant the mantra “Om Namah Saraswati” which is an expression of adoration for the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, art, and wisdom.
The Eastern-influenced instrumentation continues in “Byrd of the Tree,” augmented by flute. Alternating rhythmically between 7/8 and 4/4 time signatures, the song vaguely describes a journey across the Atlantic Ocean to America by sea-faring birds as well as early Europeans and resolves to a well-orchestrated finish.
“Cool Symphony” begins simply with a dulcet finger-picked acoustic guitar, soon joined by a prominent Beatlesque Mellotron and timpani. Vocalist Lionel Pezzano is heard here clearly sans effects for the first time on this record, yearning for his baby boy “growing in a belly coming from another galaxy.”
A groovy bass line unexpectedly starts “Walking on Rainbow,” an ethereal, airy number. Pezzano lyrically guides his “little son in a brand new world” through an idyllic landscape. It becomes clear that his newborn child, referenced in most of the songs on Side A, is not only the inspiration for the album but its main character and protagonist as well.
The themes of infancy and pure innocence continue on Side B in ways that are not at all subtle, as “Babyphone” includes infantile sounds and toys. However, the xylophone and poppy, millennial melody are favorably joined by a poppy drumbeat, staccato piano, and string-laden synth, surprisingly resulting in one of the album’s catchier and more clever songs. The proud papa croons to his newborn over the baby monitor with reassuring lyrics alternating between English and French.
It becomes clear that his newborn child is not only the inspiration for the album but its main character and protagonist as well.
Acoustic guitar strumming and congas ring in “Sunflower Castle.” The arrangement is sunny and light-hearted. However as the vocals are mostly obscured by digital effects, the track is relatively forgettable aside from a beautiful, nomadic pan flute solo that dances in the clouds.
“Running Wild with Us” is a welcome departure from the album’s established norm. The ballad-like waltz is moody and introspective, rising and falling dynamically throughout. The band descends into minor chords for the first time on this record, ultimately resolving into a radiant dominant major finale.
“Pick Up a Walnut” returns to the dreamy sounds the band is best known for, transporting the listener through time and planting its feet in the paisley psychedelia of 1967. The vocal melody is pleasant but heavily processed by digital effects, rendering many of the lyrics unintelligible. It is fortunate that the band included the lyrics for each song in the inner sleeve of the liner notes to discern the message behind the music.
“Alright” serves as a perfect epilogue to the album and is one of its stand-out songs. The mellow, romantic ballad – reminiscent of Mazzy Star – builds effectively while evoking a pleading proposition on a moonlit beach.
Joy Of The 4th is a cheery psychedelic jaunt that is also an ideal appetizer album for psych music-loving parents to introduce the genre to their children. The album is heavy on the “dad” theme, which could be construed as cheesy, but the result is a heartfelt tribute to a newborn child that any new parent could relate to. It explores themes of birth both physical and spiritual, from the journey in the womb to sentience and an elevated form of consciousness.
Joy Of The 4th is a cheery psychedelic jaunt that is also an ideal appetizer album for psych music-loving parents to introduce the genre to their children.
With ethereal Eastern-influenced instrumentation, the album yearns for a simpler time while musically hearkening back to the more rustic earth of the 1960’s, devoid of electronic devices and distractions. Most tracks shine with naïve, unbridled optimism; however, it is the more pensive ballads “Running Wild with Us” and “Alright” that display the group’s musical and lyrical depth.
Joy Of The 4th was released in November 2022 on Sound Effect Records. It is available as a vinyl LP or CD Digipack on Sound Effect Records’ website, and also as a vinyl LP, CD, or digital download on Bhopal’s Flowers’ Bandcamp page.
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