Words About Music
Topshelf Records has proven to be one of the most influential record labels of the past half-decade or so. They’ve signed all sorts of indie rock, post-hardcore, post-rock, and screamo bands that can all be affiliated with the blanket buzzword “emo.” Groups like the reunited Braid and The Jazz June, the loud experimentalists Pianos Become the Teeth and The Saddest Landscape, and current emo favorite The World is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die all have Topshelf to thank for their critical and underground success. One of Topshelf’s finest that seems to narrowly escape similar acclaim is Prawn, a New Jersey outfit with the dynamics of Brand New, the post-rock guitars of Explosions in the Sky, and the alt-rock appeal of Dashboard Confessional.
“Kingfisher” is the second album from Prawn, and it’s a far cry from some of the more straightforward “twinkle daddy” material that Topshelf has been responsible for. The biggest problem with this emo revival/continuation/renewal/whatever-you-wanna-call-it is that so many bands sound so similar. It makes sense that they’d sound similar since the emo sound is so compelling and enjoyable. Prawn is ambitious in this musical bubble, and in my opinion deserve more acclaim than, say, A Great Big Pile of Leaves or You Blew It!, if we’re giving praise to new emo bands. Unfortunately, I think Prawn lack that x-factor (or, shall we say… e-factor??) that makes certain other bands in this scene so interesting. At their best, you can say that Prawn is a great Brand New soundalike band.
That complaint is not to discount the band at all, though. They’re obviously gifted musicians, and whoever writes the lyrics is a great songwriter. The problem with “Kingfisher” is that a lot of the songs sound a bit too similar, though. While they’re all good and consistent, none of them stick out to me as great or memorable. Prawn is a good band that has a sound I enjoy, and if they came to a city near me I’d probably see them live, but I don’t see their music sticking with me unless I force myself to listen to it. I don’t know that I’ll ever have the desire to listen to a Prawn album.
If you are enjoying the indie emo explosion and you’re looking for something particularly emotive, dynamic, and slow, you should definitely give Prawn a listen. “Kingfisher” is certainly not a bad album. But much like with groups like Dikembe and You Blew It! (and others I probably can’t remember), Prawn only offers another band name to add to your list of bands to listen to during the interim between Empire! Empire! releases. And now that that band is putting out a new album this week, “Kingfisher” is likely to slip between the cracks.
SCORE – 6.1
FAVORITE TRACKS – Scud Running, Prolonged Exposure, Dialect Of…, Thalassa, Runner’s Body, Halcyon Days