by Tim Birkbeck
There is an abundance of bands on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean pushing a subdued emo sound tempered with indie/math-rock. So you would be totally forgiven if Prawn were one of the bands that had slipped through the net. The New Jersey four-piece’s third album Run follows the formula that their label, Topshelf Records, is known for; twinkley guitar tones, layered with melodic vocals which will pull at your heart strings. But what makes Prawn different is the simplicity of their music.
They bring clear, simple melodies to the fore and leaving their math-rock-leaning impulses a few layers back, enabling vocalist Tony Clark’s voice to take centre stage. This is most obvious on song ‘Leopard’s Paw’, on which Clark is really allowed to showcase the range of his vocals, which sends that tingling feeling up your spine. It’s a moment which reminds the listener why they fell in love with this sub-genre in the first place.
Run is a return to form for the band after 2014’s Kingfisher went under the radar for many. This third full-length has clear call backs to their debut release, You Can Just Leave It All.
The thing Prawn seem to know how to do well is pace a song, but pacing a record is maybe not their forte. Run starts off with ‘Hunter’ and ‘Snake Oil Salesman’ which aren’t by any means stand out tracks, but they manage to pick up the tempo with ‘Cricket In The Ward’ and ‘Hawk In My Head’ – which, as a long time fan, I would say is arguably one of the best songs they have ever written.
However, it almost feels like the band ran out of steam by the time we reach closing track, ‘Split Logs’. Things just seem to come screeching to a halt. It feels like any atmosphere previously built up has now been drained out.
This is a record that, for many, will be viewed as a perfect record; it peaks in places and dips when it needs to be mellow, but it just feels like some of the sequencing is out of place. However, it’s a definite improvement on their last full-length, but that doesn’t mean that Run is going to be setting the music world alight.
Run is out now via Topshelf Records.