No matter how far away it may seem, tomorrow glows with possibility and promise. Even the darkest night always breaks at dawn. flor finds light in the promise of a new day. The Hood River, OR quartet—Zach Grace [vocals, guitar], Dylan Bauld [bass], McKinley Kitts [guitar], and Kyle Hill [drums]—excavate unshakable melodies from jubilant synths, buoyant beats, and lush guitars as they relay a coming-of-age story all their own.
The group tell this story on their third full-length album, Future Shine [Fueled By Ramen]. “I was thinking about people who present solutions for today’s problems to help ensure a brighter future,” observes Zach. “I wanted to emulate that energy, optimism, and desire for a better world. The album is us chasing the goal we’ve been after since high school: to share our art, bring joy, and connect with as many people as possible.”
They started chasing that dream back in their hometown of Hood River, OR as high school kids in McKinley’s garage. The band quietly generated hundreds of millions of streams in the wake of their 2016 debut come out. you’re hiding. In 2019, ley lines only accelerated their momentum buoyed by tracks, including “white noise,” “slow motion,” and “dancing around.” Critical acclaim followed from Nylon, Billboard, Paste, and Ones To Watch who hailed the album as “an exhilarating balancing act.” They concluded a successful headline tour at the top of 2020 only to face the harsh reality of the Global Pandemic with the rest of us.
The boys promised they’d continue writing, but the isolation of quarantine and its ensuing malaise got in the way. They needed to get back in the same room…
”In the past, I would write songs by myself, bring ideas to the guys, and we’d piece them together from there,” Zach reveals. ”Future Shine didn’t happen that way. When I was back home in quarantine, I wasn’t inspired to write. So, we actually ended up writing all of these songs together during a few separate sessions. We were really more collaborative than ever.”
Once it became safe enough to do so, the musicians congregated back in Los Angeles at Dylan’s studio for a series of writing sessions. This time around, they built the bulk of the songs face-to-face together inspired by favorite records from the likes of MGMT, Phoenix, The Killers, and M83.
”We’re very lucky to have a producer in the band with his own studio,” smiles Kyle. ”Dylan really stepped up. So many bands couldn’t just go and make a record during the Pandemic. That’s not lost on us, and we’re really grateful.”
“I thought of it as a great reset,” states McKinely. “There was so much strife in the world politically and socially. So, for the first time, we sat in a room—just the four of us—thought about what we wanted to say, and crafted the songs in a totally new way. There was immediate magic. Imagine if we went back in time to my garage, but we had all of this experience writing songs and touring together? That’s what it was like. All of these years culminated in feeling like kids again.”
“We needed to make a new and exciting record,” adds Dylan. “We had a purpose. We tapped into what flor is meant to be.” The joyous synth line of “Play Along” crystallized their excitement for the process. It bounces with a steady beat towards a sweeping and soaring refrain.
“I was trying to be as honest as possible,” says Zach. “I was out of touch with who I want to be. Throughout the Pandemic, I asked myself, ‘Why can’t I get back to living it up like a goofy high schooler?’ I was remembering the happiest times of my life when I was playing games in the yard and running around with my friends in the summer. It captured that young energy, nostalgia, and wild desire. It’s a great reference for the record.”
Elsewhere, a warbling vocal melody gives way to a funkified riff and head-nodding bass line on “24.” This upbeat bounce offsets a confession on the handclap-driven bridge, “I hate to be cynical, to break your heart, to steal your soul.”
“I was being totally pessimistic,” he sighs. “I was so fed up with people becoming so absorbed in themselves they can’t look at the issues. It touches on the climate crisis we’re having and how it’s not going to get better unless we do something about it. Maybe wealth isn’t the way to take care of humanity and our planet.”
On the other end of the spectrum, the tongue-in-cheek “Big Shot” turns an inside joke into an irresistible anthem punctuated by piano, shimmering distortion, and a fittingly bombastic guitar solo. “Anytime someone gets a little cocky, we say, ‘You think you’re a big shot, hot guy’,” Kyle laughs. “We had to sacrifice the joke for a great song, but it was a reasonable trade off!”
Then, there’s “Skate.” A glossy melody wraps around the laidback sunny beat before the track catalyzes this momentum into a hypnotic chant. “We envisioned it as a soundtrack to skate and snowboard videos, which we loved to watch as kids,” observes Zach. “Gotta Do Something” examines an existential millennial struggle over a backdrop of neon keys and a massive gang vocal.
“You’re broke at 30 and wondering what you’re going to do for the rest of your life because you can’t buy a home,” Zach goes on. “Straight up, it’s about me. So, I was like, ‘You can’t just whine about it’. There’s a little bit of my dad’s voice in there, ‘Look son, you need to do something.’ It's a kick in the pants to remind me you have to work for what you want.”
As a result of that work, Future Shine sees flor at their boldest and brightest. “Personally, we retreated from all of this craziness and took solace in the music,” McKinley leaves off. “If you’re overwhelmed by the world, put this record on, and it can be your safe space to take a breather for thirty minutes. That’s what I hope you get from this record—that light.”
“This band has been my family for fourteen years,” Dylan concludes. “During the time off, I realized I can’t live without these guys. I can’t wait to get back on the road and be with them every single day. Let’s keep this going for another 20 or 30 years.”
“At least,” agrees Kyle.