Album review: Zoee releases new album ‘Flaw Flower’ and it’s a beautifully imperfect art-pop bouquet

Delving deep, Zoee fuses the everyday with the surreal and uncovers the true beauty of being flawed

image credit: Cat Scrivener

The Breakdown

Illegal Data 7.0

Flaw Flower is the exciting debut LP from London-based musician Zoee, out now via Illegal Data. The new, solo record follows previous collaborations with Joe Goddard of Hot Chip and hyper-pop collective PC Music, as well as prior single releases via Ryan Hemsworth’s Secret Songs imprint and Vegyn’s label Plz Make It Ruins.

Over the past two years Zoee has taken some time to cultivate her vocals and develop a unique style which is clear on the playfully 80’s-inspired new release. Lyrically, Flaw Flower is an honest and vulnerable glimpse into her private, inner world. Zoee’s adept lyricism came about after she combined real-life notes written and stored in her phone, with some classic imagery from modern literature including The Flowering Corpse by Djuna Barnes, Sylvia Plath’s A Winter Ship and Maggie Nelson’s Bluets.

The album quirkily and successfully combines strong hi-fi instrumentation with more intimately raw lo-fi sounds to give a wonderfully experimental, dream-like feel to some of the tracks. Both The Loft and Fountain feature free flowing jazz solos from acclaimed experimental saxophonist Ben Vince, accompanied by gentle, rainy-day synths. Host features sweetly simple vocals which float along atop an intricate baby grand piano solo.

Keeping a sense of the intimate whilst introducing bigger band elements to each track is what makes Zoee’s music so special.  Maintaining that sense of writing songs on a laptop, in a bedroom, stays true to her beginnings as an artist and is an integral part of her process. As well as sourcing sounds from YouTube Zoee also uses her own domestic recordings (including the microwave sound on Microwave and the shower on Evening Primrose).

Microwave is a many-sided song about familial dynamics, oppressive domestic settings and the joy found in self validation.” -Zoee

The record has a wonderfully nostalgic, 80s avant-pop vibe. Zoee was largely inspired by the expressive styles and attitudes of women such as Anne Clarke, Joan Armatrading, Cyndi Lauper, Rose McDowall and Anna Domino. Flaw Flower’s inception began in October 2018 when Zoee (aka Harriet Zoe Pittard) started working closely again with friend and long-term musical collaborator Rowan Martin. Material for the record began to take shape, then the writing and recording process evolved further with addition of bassist Kyrone Oak and keys player Laura Norman, as well as contributions from Ben Vince and London pop artist Saint Torrente.

Zoee says about the album: “I feel like the songs on this album took me deeper into myself… it’s about loss, about self-determination, about not losing hope, about memory, about domesticity, about detachment, about my dad, about my mum, about change, about feeling incredibly alone, about growing up.” Through these 11 new songs, Zoee delves deep into her own emotional life, fusing the everyday with the surreal and uncovering the true beauty of being flawed. And we love it.  

Flaw Flower is available NOW digitally and on cassette via Illegal Data

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