Prawn – “Kingfisher” Album Review

Posted: by Colin

Prawn’s new album Kingfisher is not a complete departure from what the band has put out in the past, as they clearly draw and incorporate influences from previous releases to expand and improve their sound. However, the album presents the listener with a new, refreshing, and energizing Prawn sound. Kingfisher is a compilation of ten thumping, bumping, and “sing along until you lose your voice” type of ambitious rock songs, that are much more direct and straightforward than anything they’ve released prior.

Most notably, the opening two songs on the album “Scud Running” and “First as Tragedy, Second as Farce” are a strong indication of the newfound sound. Ringing, technical musicianship previously associated with Prawn takes the back seat for thick, loud guitar work used to assemble memorable choruses filled with pleasantly repetitive lyrics that you’ll be reciting in your head until you spin the album once more.  

As excellent as the first two tracks are, this isn’t to say that the album is free of a few minor missteps. Perhaps one of the weaknesses of the album is that it is too cohesive. Surprisingly, some of the slower songs on Kingfisher are a bit too consistent.  While I am fond of giving the listener some breathing room, and a chance to collect his or her thoughts after a climatic point within the album, some of the breaks during the album were a bit too safe.

Not to take anything away from the band though, as these thoughts could be attributed to the notion that a handful of songs throughout the album are so unbelievably outstanding, that the feeling of being let down afterwards would only be a natural. “Dialect Of”, “Glass, Irony”, and “Thalassa” are three signature products of Kingfisher. These three songs fall closer to the experimental side of Kingfisher when viewing the album as a whole.

As alluded to previously, each song has its own signature sing along moment. The primarily bass driven song “Dialect Of” features the line “You’ve gone foreign now” in one of the bulkiest, and most boisterous points on Kingfisher. Intricate drum patterns and faint rhythms accentuate the beginning of “Glass, Irony” only for the song to take a deep breath before it explodes into a chorus that lets Tony Clark’s raspy, soft voice let out in mildly pleading manner “Let’s keep swimming to our bodies”. Finally,  ‘Thalassa” strikes near the end of the album with heavy drums and thunderous horns, elevating the song as an undeniable stand out track on the album. Not to be outdone lyrically though, as it also includes one of the most puzzling and thought provoking one-liners in quite some time “I’m glad you found clarity in ambiguity”.

Kingfisher is an album that is challenging to put into perspective.  Cutting right to the chase, the album is extraordinary at its highest peaks. On the contrary, after the peaks, the valleys are consistently inconsistent. Overall, the best quality about Kingfisher is that it has the type of “mass appeal” sound to it. It’s the perfect album to introduce to a friend who’s interested in rock music, but might be on the fence about listening to “emo” or something that’s “not on the radio”.  Kingfisher is a mature album. It’s not going to catch you off guard with any quirky lyric or musical surprise, and that’s perfectly fine. In a time when so much musical experimentation is occurring, it’s enjoyable to know exactly what you’re listening to, and having it executed at a high level.

– Colin Mac