Never Ending Space Chain of Flowers

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Welsh post-punk unit Chain Of Flowers return with their lofty and long-simmering sophomore full-length, rich with reckonings, reverb, and redemption: Never Ending Space. Despite some of the songs dating back a few years, the record first began materialising in earnest during the pandemic, by which point most of the band had relocated from Cardiff to London. Reunited and rejuvenated, they picked up where they left off, booking two multi-day sessions at Hackney hub Total Refreshment Centre with producer Jonah Falco. In this time they successfully channelled their kinetic chemistry into 10 full-blooded anthems of torn dreams, poetic delirium, and “hope stretched too far.”

Musically, Never Ending Space skews notably more maximal than the group’s previous work, fleshed out with trumpets, saxophone, synth, percussion boxes, and spoken word. (Smith jokingly calls them The Chain Of Flowers Orchestra). Yet the songs still swing and soar with a charged heart, ripe with hooks, drama and ragged melody. Opener “Fire (In The Heart Of Hearts)” stirs to life on a tide of wiry guitar and defiant horns, facing down the embers of love that still glow in the wake of pain: “Peace came tumbling like a shower of bricks / The mind twists slowly till everything fits.” A tense energy ripples throughout – from the nocturnal rush of “Serving Purpose” and “Amphetamine Luck” to the bruised battle cries of “Torcalon” and “Old Human Material.” Outliers like “Praying Hands, Turtle Doves” hint at proggy possible futures, while instrumental vignette “Anomia” offers an intriguing glimpse at a lesser heard facet of the band: swaying, shadowy, subdued.

The album’s title track is also its closing cut, a stomping, sparkling ode to “the wrong side of the night, where time goes to die.” Smith describes the scene: “Everyone’s talking, screaming, trauma bonding, but no one’s listening. Broken dialogue. Shouting over each other. You want to switch off, but everyone’s too fucked.” The guitars spiral and slide towards the oblivion of dawn, the chance to crash and do it all again. The song’s refrain captures the elision of time, spilling through the haze of days, from chaos to acceptance: “I can’t see the clock through the shrouds of smoke / Does it matter? / Common ground / In a never ending space.”

ALT73 Released 26 May 2023