Prussia – Dear Emily, Best Wishes, Molly
At one instant you’re at a soda fountain, surrounded by day-glo hues and crew-cuts and glowing jukeboxes. Next thing you know, you taste the scorching air of a Jamaican shantytown and start bobbing to a reggae ballad. Or you could be dancing in the streets to jangly rhythms, with the alluring grooves and hard hooks of r&b or classic 60’s pop. There may be a lot of screaming. There may be a lot of crooning. It could be romantic, it could be dark.
Prussia, on their debut full length, hits pure pop elegance with subtly primal energy, with head-scratching grins and casual shrugs towards any preconceived domains of suburban white indie rockers. It’s tribal pop, with a crackly, starry-night classicism.
The local quartet enthusiastically delves into soulful pop and roots reggae, transposing a refreshing timelessness onto this nihilistic technological age, with Morrissey-esque sonnets sung in raspy Drifters-esque high-range vocals and Four Seasons oh-OH-oh melodic refrains, over bounce-to-groove Jamerson-inspired bass lines, with intricate and inventive percussion spawned from Talking Heads’ art-punkified take on the Afro-Cuban allure.
A warm toned guitar sways and strums lazily over tropical clave claps and tambourine jangles (“Indian Girls”) with theremins delicately haunting this song’s sleepy-town back alleys. On “Lenin”, sun-soaked surf guitars ride a beach-shore tide of rhythmic scrapes on guiros in some beautiful sandy torch-lit folk lullaby, with serene sing-along chorus. Opener, “Plantation Workers (Unite and Takeover),” is a slow burning groove march, with bassist Bober’s hooking boom creating a unique take on the rhythmic chording of roots reggae, allowing singer Spencer to spew an arresting up-and-down vocal melody, an anthemic weird-Rasta-rant that transitions into a glorious smorgasbord, growing from a distant clacked train-track percussion from drummer Remdonek that churns into a tribal pounded storm as Spencer paints imagery of hot and desolate African plains during snake season – then, jingle bells and a bouncing melodica ride us out of this dark mystic muse. “I Misbehave” is a scruffy troubadour resolution of debating to find God in an ambitious trek around the Rocky Mountains, minimalist bass bounds and a gritty buzz feedback ride shimmering daydream bells. On “Oil” a looped log drum beat sets a driving, sunny vibe in the most unabashedly soul-pop attributed hook, but features Spencer at his best murky-romantic: “You’re certainly not our type, you’re far too bright, still we – we made shit out of our brains…” in a melody that slides and swirls up, loops gracefully and eases back into a slide.
Centerpiece “Supreme Being” may be the quintessential statement for their perfect pop hybrid of bop-buh-bop doo-wop aesthetics with crazed edgy avant-garde waltzing rounds, serenely supplemented with a sunny Western-woozy violin that topples into a rousing machine gun percussive romp culminating in the entrancing chanted chorus “That boy’s been breaking my heart, that boy’s been doing me wrong…” It winds down to a folky-er mellowness on side B, but it’s still a captivating listen: a diverse sound, filled with melodic hooks and unconventional instrumentation, sufficiently renovating the gap of indie-rock rough edge experimentalism back to a clean-cut swing of soul, r&b and reggae.