Release Date: August 12th, 2014
Record Label: Topshelf Records
There is no denying that emo has become a more popular style of music within the punk/indie scene right now, but what is “emo?” There are so many different takes on it now: some bands opt for a more straightforward, borderline pop punk approach, while others choose to lean closer to the intricacies of indie rock or post-rock. So where exactly does Prawn fall on the emo spectrum? Well, they fall all over the place, being somewhat of an amalgam of the genre’s vast nature. Prawn has never been afraid to try their hand at many different styles and with Kingfisher, the band’s sophomore album, that fearlessness pays off more than ever.
The whole thing kicks off with a gently plucked guitar riff and a steady toe-tapping rhythm that act together as one to invite you into the album’s rich and lush atmosphere. Once lead vocalist Tony Clark belts “It’s the floor I’m reaching for,” you know you are in for the long haul. “Scud Running” is the perfect introduction to the album, showcasing the many elements to the band: post-rock flourishes (courtesy of Kyle Burns’ precise sense of playing), steady yet impressive rhythm from drummer Jamie Houghton, strings, horns, and more; there is no doubt that it will go down as a fan favorite to many.
It is those different styles all joining at the center that makes this album work. The band can play upbeat cuts, like “First As Tragedy, Second As Farce” and “Dialect Of,” and interweave them perfectly with more atmospheric and minimalist numbers such as “Prolonged Exposure” (a definite standout) and “Old Souls.” There is an impeccable flow to Kingfisher as not only do the songs know how to rise and fall effectively, but the album as a whole does too and it is proof of the band’s attention to detail and placement of each song, which is exemplified by the album’s centerpiece tracks: the aforementioned “Old Souls,” and “Glass, Irony,” an unrelenting high surge of energy.
Clark’s lyricism is sharper than ever before with poignant lyrics, specifically on “First As Tragedy, Second As Farce” (“If the gods are fair then I am fucked/I am my father’s son”) and “Thalassa” (“I’m glad you found clarity in ambiguity”). The album is sprawling with those individual highlights from each member (Come on, that bass groove at the end of “Absurd Walls” is just too good) and yet still maintains that sense of cohesion. Each member knows how to set the mood and when to take center stage. Perhaps part of that merit should also go to producer Greg Dunn (his resume includes works from his own band Moving Mountains, as well as previous Prawn releases). Nothing feels lost in the album’s overall sound and not one member is ever overbearing to the ear.
Kingfisher is a journey, from top to bottom. From opening with the bright and perky “Scud Running” to the final one-two punch of “Runner’s Body” and “Halcyon Days,” a true sense of finality is brought to the album in such a somber yet magnificent fashion. This album feels complete, never succumbing to folly. Prawn is not setting out to change how the game is played, just to create something worth paying attention to half as much as they did. In the sea of emo bands making waves in the punk/indie scene today, Prawn has made one of the biggest with Kingfisher.
- Scud Running
- First As Tragedy, Second As Farce
- Prolonged Exposure
- Dialect Of
- Old Souls
- Glass, Irony
- Absurd Walls
- Runner’s Body
- Halcyon Days