Ships EP

Written by: DR on 31/08/2012 16:59:30

Over the coming weeks/months I will be reviewing a lot of releases that the current twinkly emo/indie scene is throwing out, because this scene is absolutely thriving at the moment. First up is Prawn, who's 2011 debut LP, "You Can Just Leave It All", was a solid exercise of the style and featured some great songs (see: "Get Down"). However, their latest EP, "Ships", sees the band edge away from the sound of their previous works and draw more from the delicacy of post-rock.

Prawn still noodle on their guitars, only now their riffs have more in common with the likes of Explosions in the Sky and colourful Swedish post-rock band Moonlit Sailor than most bands of the current 'twinklemo' scene. There are no marks of a band adapting to a new sound and struggling along the way, either. Instead, the evolution is seamless; Prawn's post-rock melodies and soundscapes are remarkably assured. For example, the arpeggios and horns of "Costa Rica" are as intoxicating and joyous as any post-rock song you're going to hear this year.

A key difference from "You Can Just Leave It All" to "Ships" is the length of the songs. Whereas that record had an average song length of about three and a half minutes, the song lengths here average well over four and a half minutes. It's a subtle difference, but an important one. The greater song lengths allow Prawn the time to perfect the dynamic between irresistable vocal melodies and stretches of gorgeous instrumental swells without having to condense either. "Grass and Bones" exemplifies this; though the music is good enough to stand-alone, the energy of the vocals - particularly the group-vocals of the ending - is so uplifting that it only serves to add to the song, even offsetting a slightly awkard lyric such as "I'm well aware you're critical / but in your head you're fair".

There's an impressive diversity with Prawn's sound, too. No song sounds out of place, but each has its own character and song-structure. "Donald Domesky" proves they can lose the twinkleness and build songs on simple, bombastic chord progressions and still maintain their infectiousness, while the crescendo of vocals/guitars ringing in the end of "Two Ships" is one of most emotive moments of the record.

Of course, the real quality of "Ships" isn't in Prawn's ability to create great post-rock instrumentation or in their vocal energy, but in their ability to combine both so well. The instrumental side of this alone would make a damn fine post-rock release, so it's a testament to Prawn as song-writers that the vocals only ever add quality, rather than distract from it. The vocal melodies are flawless throughout, never used too much, and are always precisely placed for maximum emotional effect. If there's one EP you take a chance on this year, make sure it's this.

Download: Grass and Bones, Donald Domesky, Two Ships
For The Fans of: Moonlit Sailor, American Football, The Appleseed Cast, CSTVT
Listen: Bandcamp

Release Date 17.07.2012
Topshelf Records

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