Out-of-print in the US. The fourth Public Image Limited album is something of a milestone. Spread across its 33 minutes is some of the harshest and least "user-friendly" music ever recorded for a major record company. FLOWERS, the first album following the departure of the band's initial bass player, finds John Lydon largely abandoning guitars in the construction of his songs. The music is mainly comprised of jerking, off-kilter drumming, layered with creepy keyboard effects. Echoing, buried backing vocals add menace to his uniformly disturbing lyrics. The tone of "Spread her body all naked and silly, a bulbous heap batting her eyelids" ("Track 8") and "What do you want, you're annoying go away, it's not my fault that you're lonely" ("Banging the Door") is not atypical. In "Under the House," a tale of a ghostly haunting in a dream-house, the almost lethargic vocals are undercut with frenzied drumming, distant growls, and creaking sounds. "Go Back," one of Lydon's classic anti-middle-class-complacency rants, features a tinny, squalling guitar--almost as an afterthought to the rigid drums. "Francis Massacre" ends the record abruptly with a mixture of seemingly unrelated drums, samples, and vocals. FLOWERS is a classic album of awkward and disturbing anti-"pop" music.
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P. Hood | San Francisco, CA | 12/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"call me an old-timer, but the first 3 albums of PIL were and will remain the only PIL. throw in the live in Paris album and the "Home is Where the Heart Is" single and you have all you will ever need. First Issue, Second Edition & Flowers of Romance are three wildly different works of art that together I would stand up against any three albums from any other band. I saw them in San Francisco at the Elite Club after the Flowers of Romance release. Wobble was no longer with the band at this point, but it was still the best show I have ever seen and I even ended up with John Lydon's t-shirt. Good Times! So it's been 25 some years since then and I am dropping tunes off Flowers of Romance to unsuspecting young kids in Ukraine and their eyes are popping out. This album, unlike me, never gets old!"
Darkness And Dissonance
darklordzden | Australia | 09/16/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Even now, some twenty eight years after it's release, trying to do justice to "The Flowers Of Romance" in words is an exercise in futility.
That is to say that numerous words can be used to describe it - funereal, pummeling, bleak, abstract, hypnotic, industrial, unnerving, angular, jagged, brutal - but none of them can really do justice to it as a listening experience. In terms of content, it can only be described as music in the loosest possible terms and that it must certainly qualify as one of the most uncommercial albums ever released by a major record label. To say that it polarizes opinion amongst audiences is an understatement akin to that of describing the sinking of the Titanic as "a minor boating accident" - Lydon and co. were allegedly bottled off of the stage numerous times whilst touring its release by fans bemoaning the loss of Jah Wobble and clinging to the more conventionally musical wreckage of the spectacular disaster that was the Sex Pistols, and, to this day, it would be fair to say that the majority of the population at large would, if forced to sit through a playing of the album in it's entirety, label it as "unlistenable crap".
Its not though. Its abstract, its uncompromising, its ambiguous and whilst its true that it's creation probably was driven by a lacking knowledge of musical composition more than anything else, in it's own uniquely nihilistic and typically Lydonian way it's musical naivete turns out to be its greatest asset.
Driven by Keith Levene's apocalyptic drumming, Lydon's tortured semi-ironic caterwauling and an omnipresent bed of droning synths, electronic effects, detuned basses and badly played guitars, `FOR' opens up a uniquely personal vista of hellish experience. It not only walks where angels fear to tread, it pauses there to light a cigarette and gaze lazily in through dirty tenement windows at the eldritch horrors and Munchian figures that dwell within. In places it sounds like a `pestmasse' for a dying mediaeval city ("Phenagen"), the scariest horror film soundtrack ever written ("Under The House" and "Hymie's Him" - the latter of which was originally written for the film, Wolfen), a human soul succumbing to the seductive necessities of bleak indifference and futile optimism ("Banging The Door", "Go Back" and the title track) and the biggest joke that you've ever heard ("St Francis Massacre" - I generally skip this one and end the album with "Go Back")
Few soundscapes have ever attained the nightmarishly compulsive disquiet of this album. The only two that I can think of that have ever come close are Skinny Puppy's Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse and David Lynch's Eraserhead (Original Soundtrack)
I'm not going to suggest that you buy before you try - with an album as uncompromisingly uncommercial as this, to do so could invariably lead to dissatisfaction, but I will suggest that you give it a listen to see if you can relate to the singular tone and timbre of this dark diamond in the rough.