If director John Sayles transposed They Shoot Horses, Don't They? from bustling Santa Monica to a dusty, ill-lit Midwestern dancehall, it might sound something like AT THE EDGE OF DISASTER, the fourth album from the Detroit-based Blueflowers.
“You take all the fun out of hate when you’re impossible,” vocalist Kate Hinote laments over the dour shuffle of the album’s namesake opening track, setting a purgatorial tone for things to come. The gathering storm blows the doors open by track five, “A Little is Too Much”, with Hinote wailing, “If we play this out / Your only protection is to unbreak my heart” like a heartland banshee.
Not all is doom and gloom, however. “Everywhere”, with its breezy chorus and galloping castanets, recalls the Spector-esque pop sensibility manifest in earlier outings such as “Maybe”, from the band’s 2011 disc, IN LINE WITH THE BROKEN-HEARTED. Still, even the brightest moments, like the beautifully rainy refrain of “I Can’t Let Go” and “Thoughtless or Dumb” (“I swear to see the next time / That there won’t be a next time”), are tinged with shadow.
Blueflowers guitarist/producer Tony Hamera and company – including Erica Stephens (bass), David Johnson (acoustic guitar), Jim Faulkner (drums), and Erin Williams (organ/backing vocals) – provide the ideal canvas for Hinote’s vocal brushstrokes, occasionally accented with guest instrumentation, such as Julia Stephenson’s weepy violin on the loping “In the Way”.
Indeed, the handgun ensconced by the floral cover art belies from the outset the Blueflowers’ “folk-noir” as the flip side of the happy pop coin. Fans of the band’s previous work and newcomers alike will find AT THE EDGE OF DISASTER at once haunted and haunting.