THE FLOWER CARTEL - " Dark Portraits" Album Review

The Flower Cartel is the new solo project of Danish producer and multi instrumentalist Jens Søltoft Buur Holmboe. After many singles released between March and August 2023, including the promising "When The Lights Fade In Vegas", he presents us with his first long album: Dark Portraits.

This work embodies considerably darker tones, as its cover image suggests. if his previous tracks stood out for their ingenuous and stylistically hybrid productions, this album takes on a much clearer direction: crisp, elegant, and sorrowful melancholia. It emotionally feels like a gust of chilling wind: precise, crisp, and unforgiving on the edges, yet nostalgic at its core.

It's in tracks like "My Cyanide", with a clear TR/ST-like mood and structure that we can fully envision his darkwave background, but also his knack for original melodies framed by segments of experimental flair. Armed with a lullaby-esque gloomy feel, it presses all the right buttons at the right time. One third calculated introspection, one third hypnotic futurism, and one third moody toned down storytelling.

"w/o u (without you)" gifts us with another production worthy of notice. It takes us back to Woodkid's "The Golden Age", with cinematic and space-like fragments. Despite these razor-sharp touches of ingenuity, the central melody and lyrics are accessible and relatable.

In "After The Truth", we encounter one the highest moments of the album. With a strong yet ethereal electronic base, this track is built on a solid loop. The synths chain us to its hunting melody but the universal character of the lyrics empowers us. 

While it's not that simple to keep this genre relevant and original, The Flower Cartel seems to explore and celebrate the world of alternative/underground culture in his own way. He does this through the small details, skilfully guiding his listeners to a promise land of emotional camaraderie. He is relatable to the younger fans who he seeks to introduce to the subcultures, while also appealing to the established darkwave/gothic/coldwave crowds.

His cover of "Wicked Game" is a clear example of that. A brilliant take on a classic symbolic song that he has chosen to reframe with a contemporary and innovative production. Despite my initial hesitance, the result does not disappoint and is one of great effect. This is without a doubt a song well executed and well produced that I will add to my rather short covers playlist.

In the midst of a clear gothic revival, The Flower Cartel stands as a beacon of light that ignites our imagination and fantasies.

Favourite track: My Cyanide


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