California-based Crooked Flower’s newest album Into the Light is a trip. The group amalgamates several sounds to create something instantly recognizable. The groovy bass lines assisted by velvety reverb create psychonautical waves to ride from one song to the next. However, the instrumentation is just a backdrop for where Crooked Flower truly shines, and that is front woman Angie Dang’s voice. By fusing 90’s ska/punk guitar riffs and heartfelt R&B vocals, Crooked Flower creates a sound that lives up to the band’s name. Into the Light is both beautiful and emotionally broken in its presentation.
Into the Light starts off strong with its first two tracks, “Dancing” and “Search Warrant.” The former opens with bubbly guitar that paints a hazy summer afternoon daydream. The track is carefree in its delivery, offering optimism in the chorus with the repeating line, “I’m dancing into the night.” “Search Warrant” feels more akin to a piece from a concept album. The song starts off slow and melancholic, as if it is setting up for a love ballad. When the guitars come in, the track takes a heavier political turn. The track manages to maintain its reverb and distortion without giving up on the angry rawness in Dang’s singing. It all comes together at the end of the track to create something that feels both personal as well as making a broader statement about morality.
The album meanders for a couple tracks with less than subtle lyrics like, “Thank God for the government for taking care of me.” The trance-inducing breakdowns in some of the shorter songs does prevent the album from ever getting too stale. With the album only having eight songs, clocking in at just over half an hour, Into the Light is not padded with any filler or meaningless tracks.
“Around and Around” breaks the pace of the album by increasing the tempo and leaning heavily into its 90’s ska roots. The catchiness of the tune makes it easy to bob your head while completely missing Dang singing, “[You] made me feel like I was gonna die. Baby I just can’t take it anymore. I just can’t fake it anymore.”
Crooked Flower did not always have Dang as a member of their group. However, her addition seems to have been the missing piece of a fully realized concept. Into the Light showcases the group’s sultry psychedelic sound in a digestible period of time. By bringing together the sounds of an achy soul with summertime LSD instrumentation, Crooked Flower shows they know what they want to be. What is delivered is an introspective dive into the hearts of the sad and distrustful.