Do I Look Like I’m In Love?
It’s tough for me to keep a critical distance from a Prids record being released in 2017. I suppose from the outside The Prids sound like a band fusing post-punk with shoegaze, appealing to goths plus a broader indie-listening demographic (whatever that means today), and in that regard Do I Look Like I’m In Love? fits the bill ably. But The Prids were instrumental in my growth as a music fan. They were the act that made me realise that the sounds I associated with a bygone era could be found at the shows I was attending and records I’d start ferreting out. I could guess that their record collections probably looked a lot like mine, but their own records were free of cloying nostalgia and instead were smudged with real, here and now existence. Do I Look Like I’m In Love?‘s wearied but ultimately indefatigable tone, then, is something which is hitting close to the chest.
Much more so than most of their peers, The Prids have a way with building straight-forward, hushed tracks with nodding basslines towards grandiose flourishes at the end, replete with cinematic washes of keys and truckloads of feedback. That classic mode’s certainly on display through much of Do I Look Like I’m In Love?, as on “Lie Here”. That a song about indolence, institutionalization, and denial builds to such a riotous climax is exactly the sort of paradox The Prids’ music – built on the grammar of bedroom sulking but ready to explode into the heavens – rests upon. The interstitial noises, hums, and production tics which crop up through the record have their own vitality, too, and shade it with an earthy but immediate sense of possibility.
Over the years I’ve heard the band name-checked by plenty of people and bands within and without their native Portland. Any act who can be loved by the more dour and black-clad of us as well as by twee popsters The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (who are paid back here with the peppy “Elizabeth Ann”) are doing something right, but the secret ingredient that The Prids have had at least since first proper LP Love Zero is difficult to place. Maybe it’s that the usual “recommended if you like” comparisons don’t tell the full story. I could say that opener “Summer Cult” has Slowdive’s haze or that the title cut feels like a classic Moz number, but the fact that something about the laid-back clip of “Mangled Hearts” connotes a twilight summer car ride feels more important.
I first heard The Prids nearly fifteen years ago when they played in Vancouver. I wrote about their set on my Livejournal. I evidently described them as “tight, frantic, synthy-new wave” and entreated whoever the hell was reading a mopey kid’s proto-social media nattering to check their mp3.com page. The Picadilly Pub, where that show happened, was the first place I ever ran a club night, and is now a gyoza place the last I checked. A few years later, when I left town for a brief academic sojourn, their then new album, …Until The World Is Beautiful was a lifeline. Do I Look Like I’m Love?, as I’ve been listening to it for the past week, is oddly familiar. I’m wondering if it’s been waiting for me, ready to guide me through whatever’s next.