Prawn - False Institutions (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


False Institutions (2009)


Prawn sound like a reject from the network of bands Brand New tend to play with, and that's meant in the nicest way possible. While they've yet to achieve the weight and gravity of a band like them, or say, Manchester Orchestra, there's a pensive, progressive-emo slant to their False Institutions EP that's highly enjoyable.

If you're one of the (very) few who appreciated this sort of thing on the only EP from the incredibly short-lived the Devil and the Lion, you'll find a lot to like here. As much as Tony Clark's vocals on opener "Nightmares" immediately evoke images of a weird hybrid of two parts Cove Reber (Saosin) and one part Andy Hull (MO), listeners will probably quickly adjust when the tension mounts and the atmospheres fill with lush cascades of guitars. It's a complex, wrought five minutes whose last-minute buildup and teasing fade-out catches clear signals from post-rock behemoths (see Explosions in the Sky).

That's probably another crucial element to Institutions' success. "Thousand Grains of Sand" legs out a nearly eight-minute stretch with enough compelling guitar work, complex structures and an explosive, bass-riddled fit to make the length worthy, much in the vein of Moving Mountains' more recent material -- albeit with slightly more jarring vocals. The direct admissions of "Courage Kills Men" ("You've been forced to be someone you're not. / I used to get upset, / but now I just feel bad" and "When I fall down, / I get back up. / I'm trying the best that I can.") could be thought out a bit more poetically, but they're delivered in a confidently deliberate manner that makes up for it...somewhat. The drumming on this one also sounds a little clumsy towards the end, but the mood shifts quickly when the gang vocals and claps in "Arctic Foxes" come in, highly reminiscent of fellow Jersey weirdos Trophy Scars.

Occasional expressional misfires and a fairly weird production feel aside, False Institutions is a rather promising release. Prawn know how to mix emotion and atmosphere impressively and I'd love to hear what's being cooked up for their full-length release.

all but one track of False Institutions