Announces second album The Gleaners – due October 2nd
Features guest piano from Chilly Gonzales
Shares new single ‘Marzipan’ below
“Marzipan is fucking fantastic” – Noisey
Amateur Best is the alias of Birmingham-based “personal pop” musician, songwriter, and producer Joe Flory.
After releasing debut album No Thrills via Double Denim Records (Empress Of, Tei Shi, Kero Kero Bonito) in 2013, Amateur Best returns with The Gleaners, his second full-length, due on October 2nd via Brille Records (The Knife, Gwilym Gold, John Wizards).
Listen to first single ‘Marzipan’ – due August 10th, it’s a delightful slice of three-minute wonky pop that has already pricked up the ears of Radio 1’s Huw Stephensand Xfm’s John Kennedy.
Flory has come a long way since his beginnings making major label pop music as Primary 1. Following the release of No Thrills and tours of Europe playing drums with Chilly Gonzales & the Kaiser Quartett, Flory made a move from the bustle of London to his current home in Birmingham in order to hone his songwriting and production talents, perfecting a melodic, crystal clear style of vocal pop. It’s a style that draws on the electronica of Cassius’s Au Reve, the soundtrack work ofMichael Nyman, the intricate layering of The Avalanches, and the experimental pop of David Sylvian and Ryuchi Sakamoto while sounding like no one else but Amateur Best.
The result of three years writing and recording, the 10 tracks that make up The Gleaners straddle the fine line between outright ecstasy and muted melancholy. Initially envisioned as a concept album about a charity shop-bought doll’s house, it mutated into a full-on dance record. “In the end, I realised that I just wanted to write songs about my own life set to the most exciting music and production I could come up with,” Flory says.
Where No Thrills drew its influences from the warm, pastoral techno of artists like James Holden and his Border Community label, The Gleaners feels like more of a step into the unknown. Produced and mixed entirely by Flory, the album uses a huge array of instrumentation and hardware to arrive at its unique and varied sound. Flory would buy old drum machines and synthesizers, make a song, and then sell it to buy the next piece of kit. “Mixing it myself made me slightly crazy, but I love the sound of something that has been entirely directed by one person.”
Like all the most personal albums, The Gleaners is a record that reveals itself to the deeper listener. Urgent and immediate moments like ‘Marzipan’ contrast with the luscious, slower grooves of ‘No Sleep’, while pristine electronic pop belters like ‘They Know’ sit alongside rawer songs like album opener ‘Rely’ (which was recorded completely live, with keyboards from Spencer Zahn and strings from the Kaiser Quartett). Additionally, Chilly Gonzales – who guested on No Thrills – returns for more on The Gleaners and laid down the piano on ‘19’.
“There are moments on this album where I feel like the music, lyrics, and production just gel completely,” Flory says, “With the way I make music – which is to do everything at the same time, and everything alone – getting that moment of total clarity in lyrics, melody, and production is quite a unique feeling, and probably the reason I enjoy making music so much. I called it The Gleaners because it’s my way of taking little snippets of all the stuff I like and reinterpreting it.”
The Gleaners is testament both to Flory’s commitment to making music on his own terms, and to the sheer joys of making music full stop.
1. Rely, 2. 19, 3. The Double, 4. Marzipan, 5. They Know, 6. Part Timer, 7. Hey Darin’, 8. Night Shifter, 9. Leviathan, 10. No Sleep
Pre-order the album here.