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November 21, 2017


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Pram
Dark Island (Merge Records)

By: Cam Lindsay

Truth is, I always thought Pram were a bargain bin Stereolab. For some reason, I always affiliated the two bands and found Stereolab to be much more interesting and exciting with their creativity (although they seem to have lost that exciting direction since Emperor Tomato Ketchup). Then Broadcast came along, with a similar sound to Pram, and yet, Pram again, seemed to be the lesser of those two as well. What is it with this band? Will I never let them catch a break?

Well, Dark Island, their ninth studio album is quite good. And it's not like they formed after hearing a band like Stereolab. They obviously sought inspiration from classics like The United States Of America and Joe Meek. While they admit to resorting to using cheap equipment from pawn shops for this record, the instrumentation doesn't sound drastically different from the rest of their back catalogue, but a little more intriguing. Rosie Cuckston has created a wonderful little Pram universe that has become more adventurous with its experimentation. While the majority of Dark Island floats by on a cloud, "Paper Hats" stands out amongst all tracks, acting like the band just received a shot of adrenaline in the arm. Most of the record sounds like it is venturing into outer space, wandering in limbo with a strong sense of the unknown.

Truly mysterious, Dark Island has some of the finest instrumentation heard in recent times. Pram certainly have a good thing going for them, and maybe one day they can receive the attention that their peers have obviously hogged over the past decade or so. I'll give it an A-.

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