Prawn

Kingfisher

Written by: LF on 13/11/2014 13:17:12

New Jersey emo/indie rockers Prawn have been impressing people from around the world for a while now. Their "Ships" EP from 2012 saw them including some post-rock influences in their music, and most recently they released a split with Joie De Vivre. Now their second full-length album "Kingfisher" is out, an album which I've had a hard time figuring out what to do with because it's so deceptively simple and accessible overall. However, when you listen more closely it's like an entire little world unravels in front of you. It might sound straightforward but there are so many little things going on beneath the surface. As previously the band combines inspirations from layered post-rock and emo-tinged indie rock and what is essentially remarkable about it is that they make it all flow in one big motion through the album as if it was the simplest thing in the world.

From first song "Scud Running", the richness of the album is evident as we are presented with both brass and string instruments on top of a regular rock band set-up. After a steadfast but also atmospheric intro to the song, the vocalist enters in a short break with a haunting, semi-pained voice that fills the instrumental void while singing the first memorable lines of the album that I don't think I'll ever get out of my brain again. The post-rock aspects of Prawn's music show especially in the way the instruments are layered and the relatively slowly developing dynamics that colour the music overall. This reminds me a lot of the dynamics of Polyenso's record from last year and while Prawn are of course way less floaty in comparison, they do have a similarly haunting vocalist and similarly echoing brass instruments in common. In simultaneous combination with the more emotionally raw indie rock parts that dominate the album, it's exactly the best of both worlds for me. All of the songs combine these different expressions perfectly and what is even better is that each one does it in a slightly different way than the others.

The most easily likeable songs are definitely the most playful ones while the more brooding ones that pull in the post-rock direction have taken slightly longer to root themselves in my mind. Still songs like "Runner's Body" or "Absurd Walls" paint very insisting soundscapes and turn out to be just as addictive as the others with time. The softest song of the record, "Old Souls", is in an entire category for itself. The build up around the middle of "You can rearrange me now / Put my feet back on the ground / Put the blood back in my veins" gets me every time and leaves me with goose bumps for the rest of the song, all through its comforting and harmonious ending lines: "You carry me over / You carry me through / We're old souls in new skin". To name just a few highlights of this album is very hard but "First as Tragedy, Second as Farce" has literally been haunting me for weeks, especially with the way it subtly breaks down before the last chorus with the melancholy of the lines: "We're an act / We're a farce / It's better that we don't / If the gods are fair then I am fucked / I am my father's son". "Thalassa" stands out as well as it features some incredibly optimistic horns in its intro before it descends into the melancholic musing of the repeated "I'm glad you found clarity in ambiguity".

Even though I wouldn't mind some even more emotional vocals than the at times slightly dry delivery here, the album overall is so dynamically well-composed that I can't stop listening to it. Some songs cling to my brain more than others but I feel that they all justify their place on the record by having their own quirks and ideas that are all quintessentially Prawn but each in a slightly different way.

Download: First as Tragedy, Second as Farce; Runner's Body; Old Souls; Scud Running
For The Fans Of: Braid, Polyenso, Balance & Composure
Listen: facebook.com/Prawnmusic

Release date 12.08.2014
Topshelf Records

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