“Staring into the Sun”: Inside flor’s Radiantly Bold & Buoyant Third Album ‘Future Shine’

flor "Future Shine" © Ashley Osborn
flor "Future Shine" © Ashley Osborn
flor frontman Zach Grace opens up about the band’s stunning third album ‘Future Shine,’ an effortlessly intimate, impassioned, and invigorating indie pop classic.
for fans of Glass Animals, Years & Years, Passion Pit, Smallpools
Stream: “Gotta Do Something” – flor




This record feels like powering through an insurmountable task. It’s like staring into the sun, knowing you’ll burn your eyes out, but having a shred of hope that maybe you’ll see something extraordinary and beautiful beyond.

Effortlessly intimate, impassioned and invigorating, flor’s third studio album is an instant classic.

It’s the kind of music that hits hard and fast, enchanting the ears while inspiring the heart at the same time. Buoyant and bold, catchy and cathartic, the stadium-sized Future Shine is all hits and no misses: A record that burns bright with an irresistibly infectious, radiant glow.

Future Shine - flor
Future Shine – flor
all my friends got good paying jobs
new families and dogs.
house payments on a spot with a river view.
i’m stuck fighting with my landlord
asking me to pay more.
this just ain’t the look i want.
well you gotta do something.
wasting your life just rolling the dice.
well you gotta do something.
won’t be young forever.
gotta get yourself together you know

It’s often said that an artist’s third album is the one that can either make them or break them: Past the innocence of a debut and the immense expectations of the follow-up second LP, the third album presents an opportunity for organic creation in relatively pressure-free surroundings. This was certainly the case for flor, and while time will be the ultimate indicator, today, Future Shine sounds and feels like an undeniable success.

flor © Ashley Osborn
flor © Ashley Osborn



Released May 6, 2022 via Fueled by Ramen, the indie pop band’s third LP is the product of a back-to-basics, do-what-you-love approach.

The four-piece of Zach Grace [vocals, guitar], Dylan Bauld [bass], McKinley Kitts [guitar], and Kyle Hill [drums] had just wrapped up touring their sophomore album ley lines when the COVID-19 pandemic shut live music down across the country not a week later. Months passed before they were able to come back together, and while it was an unproductive time from a music writing standpoint, those unending days in lockdown and quarantine did offer a chance for all to reconnect with their own favorite records: Albums from artists like MGMT, Phoenix, The Killers, and M83 provided a soundtrack to the otherwise unbearable and intolerable isolation of 2020.

When they were finally reunited and face-to-face, flor’s bandmates sought inspiration from the tracks they’d had on repeat and the artists that got them into music in the first place. They went into their third studio album with a clear goal in mind: To light a fire in every song.

“There was immediate magic,” guitarist McKinley Kitts says, thinking back on their reunion at bassist Dylan Bauld’s Los Angeles studio. “Imagine if we went back in time to my garage, but we had all of this experience writing songs and touring together? That’s what it was like. All of these years culminated in feeling like kids again.”

flor essentially set out to make their own timeless collection: A record that might be for others what Oracular Spectacular or Sam’s Town was for them.

It was a tireless process, but one that was surprisingly organic and easy.

flor © Ashley Osborn
flor © Ashley Osborn



“This record came to us right in the middle of the pandemic,” frontman Zach Grace tells Atwood Magazine. “We didn’t prepare for it after our tour in winter 2020. We just tried our best to live out normal lives, never knowing what live music would look like again or when it would ever come back. There was no rush and no pressure to create – we knew we wanted to do it on our time and at our own pace. In late 2020 we all got back together to start making music at Dylan’s studio in LA. Immediately, the months of uncertainty just washed away. We were charged with creativity and hopeful for what was to come. We knew that this energy had to be the foundation of the next album.”

“Our vision was to create songs that lit us up like we did the first time we heard our favorite bands. We wanted every song to spark this undeniable hype. While trying to capture this we ended up creating an album that deeply understands and connects with coming of age themes through all stages of life. A beautiful case of trusting our gut and allowing the record to take on a life of its own.”

Look at them, they play guitar
They dress the part, gonna be a star
I bet they drive a kick-ass car
Or a motorcycle to their own bar
I wanna have a slice of that
Sick confidence, so laid back
It’s cool cat living out ahead of a life that I wish I had
Big shot, hot guy, long nights
Sippin’ on whiskey, west coast lullaby
But you’ll be up ’til six in the morning
How you keep it going all night?
– “Big Shot,” flor




One by one, the songs flowed naturally. The band wrote about experiences past and present, the relationships that worked and those that didn’t, their hopes and dreams for the future, and the pervasive hopelessness that inevitably comes with living in a pandemic state. Every track came with its own set of colors and characteristics, with flor taking time to experiment with new sounds and styles, switching up the formulas and testing out new approaches to their vocals/guitar/piano/bass/drums setup while staying true to their core identity.

“More so now than ever before, our album aligns with who we are as a band both recorded and live,” Grace explains. “It carries a musical weight with it that connects immediately in headphones or through a massive PA. We pushed ourselves to be honest lyrically. With that veil lifted we’ve invited the listener to become a part of what we are experiencing more than we’ve ever done before. I think that’s the true mark of our artistry. We’ve pushed our boundaries to allow for a fuller understanding of ourselves and the world around us.”

“On this album, we were on a creative level we’ve never reached before,” he adds. “I would credit it to collaboration at its finest. We were true to the music we wanted to make, the music that makes us excited, and the music we think will absolutely destroy live. That’s Future Shine. This record feels like powering through an insurmountable task: It’s like staring into the sun, knowing you’ll burn your eyes out, but having a shred of hope that maybe you’ll see something extraordinary and beautiful beyond. Nothing captures that boundless optimism (and insanity) quite like Future Shine did.”

Don’t need a reason
You see it in the seasons
The rising of the ocean
The rise in the degrees
And mars ain’t the answer
We’re all getting cancer
We’re all hurting others
Our mothers and brothers
What’s the point what’s the point
All the moves have been played
Everyone has a seat
To the end of the days
24 24 24 24
Time may be fake
But we don’t have anymore
– “24,” flor




The end result is Future Shine: A radiant, high-energy celebration of our shared humanity.

At once intimate and larger than life, the record packs a punch from the very start with “24,” a song of of urgency, immediacy, and turbulence within. “I’ve felt better, it has to be this weather. Or could it be we put the whole world through the shredder?” Grace sings on this charming, churning album opener. “Chasing up, making up time that we never had, youngsters should plan ahead, that or they’re good as dead.”

“The song needed to be unnerving and spooky to start,” he notes. “I wanted to catch people with a bit of intrigue – a weird cadence and a flighty melody that ultimately built to its chaotic, confusing conclusion. It’s a critique on the world that I felt hopelessly trapped in during the pandemic: One devoid of the sacred regard for humanity.”

Thus begins our inimitable journey through Future Shine. The feverish, cinematic anthem “Big Shot” relieves any pre-existing tension with its massive energy and unapologetic emotional overhaul, and the warm “Clouds” comes to life like a tender, immersive hug. “Send some sunshine my way,” Grace pleas under pulsing, colorful grooves and an enchanting beat. “I could use it this rainy day. Loving under clouds, it slows me down, but you could blow them all away.

Grey day, grey night, grey fight
Feeling like all the color’s slipping from my life
Doesn’t take a lot to see that I’ve gotta take back the seat
I know it’s hard enough keeping your own head straight
You’re the one that suffers through
Is there nothing you won’t do?
Send some sun
Send some sunshine
You don’t look away when all my grey’s on




“This is different for everyone and changes everyday, but some songs we’re continually proud of are “24,” “Big Shot,” and ‘Clouds,'” Grace says on the topic of favorites. “Each song feels like the best version of itself. ’24’ is my favorite song I’ve written lyrically. The whole thing. It plays a delicate game so nimbly that you don’t know whether to be distraught or enraged. I love that I got to sing about Mars. I also love the pre-chorus of ‘Big Shot,’ which I touched on earlier. ‘I wanna have a slice of that sick confidence- so laid back.” It slithers so perfectly with melody. Very Ariel signing away her voice to Ursula energy. I won’t elaborate. ‘Don’t wanna be like an old man looking for a hill to die on‘ (from ‘Future Shine’) is also a favorite of mine. A nice reminder to never get stuck in your ways.”

What helps flor stand out from their contemporaries is an uncannily seamless marriage of the catchy and the sincere.

Every last one of Future Shine‘s songs comes from the heart, soaring mightily like a beacon of raw and roaring human passion. Standouts include the smoldering, captivating beat-driven “Conditional” (a dance-ready banger, if ever there was one), the visceral, high-octane explosion “Gotta Do Something,” the intimate outpouring “Future Shine,” and the vulnerable, fitting album finale, “The Way We Talk About a Song.”

The way we talk about a song
The way we always feel at home
There’s nothing I would trade
No nothing I would change
We had it figured all along
And the signs on the walls point us right where we started it all
In the mess we won’t come undone if we’re all about chasing the song
Lean back roll with it
You and me taking these hits
When we get full of it say we’re fine press reset
We won’t ever forget thе roots that run back to it
Life’s what we make it
Wе give and take it
Yeah we’ve been there
Nothing new here
Knowing we can break through the ceiling
– “The Way We Talk About a Song,” flor
flor © Ashley Osborn
flor © Ashley Osborn



Throughout Future Shine – in their darkest moments, as in their highest highs – flor manage to create a space for understanding connection, and euphoria. 

“We hope people can tie each and every song to moments of their lives, much like we have,” Grace shares. “Maybe moments they experienced before and are looking back on, moments that they are living through now, or even moments that they want to experience. Manifest those Big Shot dreams. We want them to feel hopeful for a future that isn’t bleak. A future where our humanity takes center stage and we recognize the oneness that keeps us all tied together. The future is worth working for, we just gotta remember that.”

Brought into a crowd of younger faces
Get lost in the halls and conversations
Made too much noise and they lost patience
Still made the best of our situation
It’s no fair living with the weight of what they’ve done
Gonna make changes as they come
I wanna be
I wanna be like the future shine high on a new horizon
Don’t wanna be like an old man looking for a hill to die
I wanna be
I wanna be like the future shine high on a new horizon
Don’t wanna be like an old man looking for a hill to die on
– “Future Shine,” flor

Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside flor’s Future Shine with Atwood Magazine as frontman Zach Grace goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of their third album!

“I wanted to give a look into the meaning behind the tracks on our album Future Shine,” Grace says. “We were far more intentional with the themes and feelings we wanted to convey this time around. There is a lot less nuance and a lot more human connection. We want these songs to be defined by the moments people find themselves in when they’re listening and we’re excited to see the life our incredible fans give them.”

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:: stream/purchase Future Shine here ::
Stream: ‘Future Shine’ – flor



:: Inside Future Shine ::

Future Shine - flor

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24

The song needed to be unnerving and spooky to start. I wanted to catch people with a bit of intrigue – a weird cadence and a flighty melody that ultimately built to its chaotic, confusing conclusion. It’s a critique on the world that I felt hopelessly trapped in during the pandemic: One devoid of the sacred regard for humanity.



Big Shot

This song immediately swings you back into the real world of Future Shine. A hopeful world where whatever you want to be is just within reach. A world where you can be the big shot that you idolize on your phone screen. It started as a tongue-in-check anthem for the LA socialites, but as soon as I wrote the pre-chorus “I wanna have a slice of that sick confidence” it became more of an empowering rally cry. It’s the musical equivalent of a high school pep rally but instead of getting the team ready for the big game, it’s me getting myself hyped to chase the best version of myself. Everyone else is invited to do the same.



Clouds

This song is the deepest love song to the people who love us and stick with us through the insanity that is being an artist. Months on the road, unpredictable schedules, constant comparison – it’s all so chaotic, and it really takes its toll on how you perceive yourself and how you love yourself. It’s hard to see someone you love struggle, and our partners have seen us at our lowest. They love us through it all though. They send the sunshine.

Come Over Now

We co-wrote this song with a buddy from back home in Hood River, OR. What he brought to us initially was a song about being afraid of the dark. I took some of that sentiment, but fused it with scenes from a book i had just finished rereading called Kafka on the Shore. We wanted this song to feel like a blanket you could wrap yourself in to feel a little less alone.



Conditional

Everyone has experienced being in a relationship that doesn’t serve you. Whether it’s work or love or friendship or family sometimes it’s just not in the cards. We wrote “Conditional” about the moments after hitting that breaking point of a relationship. Past the heartbreak, past the anger or fear. The delusion is done and you realize that you’re sick of being played, and choose to ride that selfcare energy to a healthier, happier relationship.

Gotta Do Something

This song came to me as a wake up call: a persistent melody I couldn’t shake. “Well you gotta do something” over and over. I’m not really a believer in the grindset mindset, but I am at a place where I’m finding I desire more out of life. The morning I recognized I was looking for more, I knew I had to work for more. I couldn’t hope that opportunity would come to me – I had to go out and seize it.



Play Along

I find myself looking back at past versions of who I’ve been. There was a distinct version of myself I remember being in middle school and high school. I was optimistic, chaotic, and on a constant hunt for camaraderie. No weight- no tethers to keep me down. Looking back I felt like I let that part of myself die as a grew up. I wanted to write a song that could transport me back to that core version of myself so i could piece together the things i loved about myself that i lost.

Skate

The whole vibe of this song had skate written all over it. We thought back to getting out of the house, and ripping around our skatepark. Sometimes it’s ok to just skate through whatever life is giving you.



Take it Back Home

This is our summertime beach festival anthem. There’s nothing better than finding your crew and sticking with them. They just get you. Ditch the high profile shit and take it back home. The memories you make with your favorite people are priceless.

Future Shine

This whole album was written at a time where the world looked bleak. If “24” is giving into that hopelessness, then “Future Shine” is the antithesis. As a song, it looks helplessness in the face and says “there is a way through this if we bust our asses and make it happen”. It’s hopeful, it’s triumphant, and it perfectly captures the mindset we are in as a band right now.



The Way We Talk About a Song

At its core, this song is an ode to friendship and how transformative true camaraderie can be. It took four friends from a tiny town and put them on a stage with thousands of fans connecting and experiencing life in infinitely different ways. It’s what makes life worth living. It’s all about moments like this – where you can sit with a friend and talk for hours about your new favorite song.

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:: stream/purchase Future Shine here ::



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Future Shine - flor

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📸 © Ashley Osborn

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