REVIEW: Flora Cash’s "our generation" Places Substance Over Style
Are you in the mood for love? Flora Cash, despite sounding like the name of a single female artist, is the moniker belonging to married duo Shpresa Lleshaj and Cole Randall. Currently settled in Stockholm, Lleshaj and Randall have been making pop music together for nearly a decade. Originally a long-distance project, with Randall based in Minnesota, the couple married about a year into knowing each other and haven’t looked back. Their website proclaims that “Flora Cash is, at its core, a love story, an adventure and a reminder to those who weren’t born wealthy or whose childhood was fraught with disadvantages that cynicism doesn’t have the final word.” It’s all very sweet and, to state the obvious, very at odds with the current wave of dark pop music.
The lack of cynicism in Flora Cash’s music would be apparent to even the most casual of listeners. They are the type of project, after all, to unironically name their latest album our generation. The lofty ideas conjured by such a title may not be fully represented on the records, but it does represent something. When listened to in full, it plays like a conversation between two people in the process of finding solace in one another. Lleshaj and Randall take turns on vocals; each song unlocks another part of one member's story. We are able to follow their success as musicians, their love for one another, and their troubled pasts all over the course of one album.
This autobiographical touch will either work for you or it won’t. If you’re the kind of person who finds “started from the bottom, now we’re here” narratives to be corny, click away now. If you’re a sucker for an underdog story, especially one that involves an almost-perfect romance at the center, you might find our generation to be narratively compelling. The sound of the record is no issue, of course. You’ll like that too.
Flickering back and forth between radio-ready pop and indie folk (think if Birdy decided to do her take on Billie Eilish production), our generation does have trouble finding a lane, but that might not matter if you’re more of a playlist listener than an album listener. For every song like album opener “when i was young,” with clean (very Swedish) pop production, there’s a twangy folk crooner like “i tell myself lies.” There are a few tracks that manage to blend the styles successfully, “holy ghost and hallelujah” and “OVER” being the best. They show a side to Flora Cash that has a skilled hand with dark guitar pop. If their next record was more like those songs, I’d be excited to listen.
Strangely, though, the music feels almost secondary to the stories being told on these songs. Though sometimes vague, the throughline of lost innocence and growth is done well. Even when the album sounds more like a playlist than a record, the lyrics keep it together as a cohesive piece of work. In this way, it still reminds me of Billie Eilish; her latest record was deliberately more understated than her previous album to encourage the listener to engage with the meaning behind the songs. Flora Cash is able to naturally follow this impulse as well.
If you’re interested in a range of moody pop genres, our generation is worth checking out. The story behind the record and the journey it takes you on add to the appeal of the record, but the music stands just fine on its own. When most indie pop is more about making catchy ear-friendly tunes, it’s nice to see a project that places substance over style.