This past January ignited the process for producing a killer record by Lowell locals, Floor Hockey. With the release of ‘Ice Pick’ and, later, ‘Seeds & Stems’ and ‘Window Shopping’, listeners got an inkling of what to expect from this band. Now that Floor Hockey’s full-length, Today’s Kids is public, Summer 2019 finally has appropriate auditory accompaniment.
This is usually the part in my reviews where I feel a little guilty for talking about the release because I don’t want to spoil anything for soon-to-be listeners. However, since Floor Hockey set the meta precedent by incorporating the sounds of reeling tape into the record, I’m just going to toddle along and follow suit. And YOU are going to have to roll with it.
Personally, I’m a sap for novelty goodies, so starting and ending the record with tape sounds and brief vocal salutations that actually discuss the writing of the record was an extra treat for me. But doing so also tells me just how conscious the group was in organizing their project. The wisp of tape loading and ejecting and the final reminder to hit rewind implies that the record should be listened to as a cohesive whole. It recollects the nostalgia that comes with operating dated technology, especially as a kid. It’s an abstract production tactic that is executed really well here.
Strategic production tactics are a theme throughout the record as well. Various guitar tones, retro synth patches, and vocal reverb washes are strewn throughout the record. With everything from acoustic guitars and echoing vocals to tight drum pockets and gristly rhythmic sections, tonal qualities are lush, dynamic, raw when necessary, and calculated, as exemplified with the very end of ‘London’. They’re diverse enough for listeners to discern between particular tracks (I mean…just as an example, the title track’s synth is unmistakable), but not so diverse as to question whether a song truly fits on the record. Every track belongs exactly where it resides on Today’s Kids. In this respect, Floor Hockey and producer/synth-lord Lucas Delisle make for a fierce team.
Today’s Kids music and lyrical composition make the efforts for stellar production totally worthwhile. Floor Hockey’s lyrical content spans across a range of emotions and experiences that are inherent in crossing the threshold from adolescence to young adulthood; some yearning for what once was, some nervous or excited in anticipating the future, some pensive over what lies beyond life, others simply grateful to be here now. One of the things that really grips me about this record is how well Kyle Joaquim and Joe Orlando’s lyrics capture moods and moments that words would conventionally fumble to describe. The lines in ‘London’ that refute the hushed frames of lying beside a lover with “the music that played in my head” give breath to such precious moments that I know I, myself, have often marveled over in my own life. Another element I find really interesting about this record is overall song structure. With the exception of ‘Window Shopping’ and maybe one other tune, there are actually very few sections that repeat, like typical choruses do. The transitions between parts however are often clever, strategic, and totally natural. This trait is particularly evident halfway through ‘Ice Pick’. There’s a dynamic twist and a tempo shift but the song’s dreamy glisten is maintained through the change. It’s appropriate, it’s smart and, again, it highlights how grounded the band is with keeping the big picture in mind when composing. The same can be said for the swing that features crispy, lo-fi, granulated vocals in the latter half of ‘Window Shopping’. Actually, I need to put formalities away for a second and say that this specific part made me pump my fist because it is so. fucking. good.
Overall, Floor Hockey’s Today’s Kids is smooth, easy-listening gold. It acts as both an excellent ambience to have in the background for a Sunday morning as well as new music to intently zero in on and obsess over. More importantly, it was put together by individuals that prove through their work to value musicianship and quality production of art as much as they do introspection and the human experience. I applaud their exit with ‘Different Reasons’ for keeping positivity, love, and friendship as the final subject of the album. With Today’s Kids, Floor Hockey has restored my faith in tomorrow’s attitude.