Posted by: on August 8, 2008 at 1:00 pm


Prussia, Dear Emily, Best Wishes, Molly (Common Cloud Records, 2008)

MP3: “Supreme Being”

Lots of indie bands, local and abroad, are content rehashing musics that are barely as old as the iPhones that take up room in the back-pocket of their skinny jeans. And it can be maddening, when a band like Robbers on High Street, a virtual facsimile of Spoon, are allowed to make records, go on tour, and get national press attention on the strength of their lack of original ideas. And don’t get us started on all those newfangled emo baby boy-bands whose record collection doesn’t go past Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity.

Thank God, then, for Detroit’s very own Prussia — a welcome breath of fresh air amongst a collection of boring, same-sounding bands content with ripping one another off. Much like the like-minded Grizzly Bear, Prussia too are interested in letting a handful of their songs slowly unfold through heaps and heaps of punctuated reverb. But whereas Ed Droste and company are becoming, with each new song debuted on late night television, expert pop practitioners, Prussia are the the kind of indie/hippie kids who would much rather stay up late exploring old reggae, dub, Motown, doo-wop, and psychedelic records, than writing hits and/or watching Letterman shoot the shit with Paul Shaffer.

And it looks like all that time skipping Top 10 Lists and cheesy guests to indulge in some kind smoke and a few Dobby Dobson records must have paid off for Prussia. Their wonderful debut full-length effort, Dear Emily, Best Wishes, Molly, is an album immersed in the obscure and weird sounds of the past, but played out in a familiar way that would suggest Prussia have a tight grasp on what makes for great, strange pop music. Whether they’re messing about with funky samples (“Oil”), replacing hi-hats with sleigh bells (“I Misbehave”), getting their calypso on (“Great Lakes”), or spazzing out like the Ramones covering Herman’s Hermits at a bizarro sock hop (“Supreme Being”), Prussia are consistently full of surprises — and even more importantly, original thoughts and ideas. True, like the stranger works of the Beach Boys, the Velvet Underground, and Animal Collective (bands who Prussia will no doubt get compared to), Dear Emily, Best Wishes, Molly may not be for everybody. Some might be annoyed by singer/guitarist Ryan Spencer’s screechy vocals, the album’s lack of full-on “rockers,” or the unpredictable twists and turns the band seem to take at the drop of a dime. But they didn’t make this record to impress Jay Leno. They made it for themselves and for their friends; themselves being rampant and excited music fans with mountains of ideas spilling out of their skinny asses, and their friends being the kind of supportive and open-minded types a band needs to stay alive these days. So, if you’ve got a hankering for something new, constructed without pretense (hell, without a real drum set anywhere, from what we can tell), with one foot firmly planted in the past, and one outstretched towards the future, then we recommend Prussia’s Dear Emily…as the soundtrack to your next late night excursion. — Ryan Allen

Prussia’s CD Release Show w/ The Silent Years, Ohtis + The Oscillating Fan Club • 8/16 • The Arthur C. Rich Building

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