Flower frontman Jack Fowler wrote Waste of Life while in a holding pattern. After a busy year signing to Other People Records as the vocalist for exwhy, sharing the stage with influential up-and-comers Pujol and Knox Hamilton, and becoming a notable player in the Atlanta music scene, Fowler turned his attention to showcasing his more vulnerable side with Flower’s new album Waste of Life (out Feb. 5). A raw and heartfelt soundscape, the album alternates between the ethereal and the down-to-earth gritty as Fowler pours his heart and soul into a brutally honest and surprisingly emotional collection of songs.

Physical and visceral, the music and lyrics call to mind the struggle of post-recession life as a Millennial. Waste of Life both romanticizes anxiety and champions hope—it’s an anthem to artistry and a simultaneous middle finger to the pressures of social decorum and the futility of modern professional pursuits. With a die-hard DIY ethos, Fowler unflinchingly pushes forth with a tireless work ethic, often writing and producing the band’s music, videos and lyrics himself.

“I was working a pretty decent office job and doing absolutely nothing beyond working and getting depressed,” Fowler says. “I was just spinning my wheels and growing bored and really depressed. I was struggling with talking to people, being social at all. That’s the core of this album—anxiety and not being sure how to define yourself.”

That frustration is expressed vividly and unabashedly in memorable tracks like “Bad Telepathy,” a bouncy and frank reflection on the numerous anxieties of everyday life, and “Envy,” which confronts the voyeuristic nature of digital social connectivity, as well as its potential to encourage explosions of resentment. The title track perfectly encompasses the entire album, tying Fowler’s desperate yet hopeful overall theme into one hard-hitting gut punch of a song.

“I was disenchanted with the whole dream of a family and an office job—the ‘American Dream,’ as it were—that I bought into for a little bit,” he says. “Waste of Life is about shedding that want when it’s not really applicable. I like stability and family, but I fucking loathe wasting my time, which is what it all felt like. So I quit.”

Those last three words are probably the best way to sum up Flower’s Waste of Life. It’s a form of quitting, an admission that you’re giving up, but not completely. It signals a change in direction. It hails new beginnings, even when those new beginnings involve an end to something more socially acceptable.

“I realized I was a worker bee and wrote a whole song about it. I realized that I, msyself, am a mirror of society. This record is about me rebelling against that and calling it out—taking shots at the materialistic, and expressions of American exceptionalism that make it a shithole. I just realized I didn’t want to be a part of that anymore,” Jack laughs. “So I fucking quit.”

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