Prawn - Ships EP
Record Label: Topshelf Records
Release Date: July 17, 2012
Look, my relationship with Prawn is whatever. I saw the dudes play a few songs before a random Moving Mountains show once. And I told a friend that they were "the most exciting act of the night!!" because that is a thing for some reason. Truth be told, hearing Moving Mountains play "Lights & Shapes" and "Always Only For Me" were definitely more memorable moments than the unnamed songs (to me) that Prawn played. But me being a dickhead aside, it was a band that seemed like it had something. And that something is the completely digestible, but utterly busy and depressing, form of guitar-picked bro-hugging emo that is already becoming too faux-mainstream to stay cool. Whatever, bands like Prawn and EPs like Ships are a thing now. And they should be a thing, because this thing just rips.
An EP with some meat, Ships is a totally diverse romp through twinkly styles. Never becoming too heavy or yell-y, we can easily tune-in to the nostalgia and hope throughout songs like opener "Costa Rica" and "Grass and Bones." "Will you remember / Those late night walks?," goes the gang-sung climax of "Grass and Bones," and it's accompanied by a more filthy bass than we knew we need and guitars that both jangle and glow from a melodic sheen. Album centerpiece "Donald Domesky" comes accompanied by one of the catchiest guitar riffs in recent memory, and it's anchored by thoughtful lyrics that don't just blame, but interpret: "I know you're still the king in your runaway dreams / But in my mind, you represent a social thing whose moral is dead." And then, the best horn section this side of Bon Iver's "Perth" (and handclaps!) just kind of take an already knock-out song and transform it into something closer to a highly-addictive narcotic.
With the last three songs on Ships all surpassing the 5-minute mark, a kinship among post-rock peers becomes apparent. "Spring River" starts so soothing, like an Album Leaf track, with simple but earnest drum fills and equally insistent guy-girl tradeoffs of lines like, "Leave your preconceived notions at home / Let our bodies do the work / Let our minds relax in quiet." It's one of those songs built like an action movie. We know the tension is for something, and just hope it's worth it. Here, it is, with pounding drums, bellowing horns and the lines, "A mistake / I messed up / An armistice I couldn't keep." Closing the album with previously unseen force is "Two Ships." A precision-rocker, you bang your head as much as get lost inside it. But really, what these longer songs let us see is that Prawn are students of music: people who have a breadth of knowledge that allows them the freedom to throw a bunch of shit together with the intellect to know it will all work out. Maybe that's a bigger statement on what Ships is trying to say: crazy stuff is going to come out of nowhere, at any time, with what seems like overwhelming odds. But even though it is stupid and incorrect to say, "Everything will be alright," it doesn't feel wrong to concede the point that, when or if things go to hell, we'll figure something out. Something that at least gives us the always-waning hope that it could be alright, eventually.
Recommended If You Like: You Blew It!, Moving Mountains, Brighter Arrows
Most of these twinkly bands are this way it seems. I just have to keep telling myself to look past them.
and the music is so good that I don't mind. It's that it's heart-on-sleeve that bothers me as I'm basically a sixteen year old girl, but some of the cliches and metaphors are so trite. It's just like, fuck it, they mean well, sing a long anyway. With a little bit of refinement/added depth next time around, it'll be outstanding.
Whatever, I'm probably coming off as a dick so disclaimer: I really like this band.