In moments of boredom I often wonder what music would work really well in a cute indie film. You know the type. The ones that have an overly ambiguous conclusion in which you never know if the sad people get through their problems okay. The answer, to my ridiculous daydream scenario, is the band Princess Reason.
The trio, hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, have recently released their new three-track EP Your Divorce on Nebraskan Coast Records (August 2015). It comes after a long string of sad-pop singles, EPs, and one full album. More importantly, this new record follows the incredible Stark City EP, released in March 2014. Stark City is possibly one of the saddest records going, containing lethargic bass lines, twee guitar and vocals that sigh with an overriding sense of hopelessness; a true lo-fi dream.
However, just seconds into listening, it is immediately clear that this new EP has a different, and certainly not unwelcome, feel. Think of Your Divorce as a meeting of the Australian garage-rock hero Courtney Barnett and the crooning sad-pop stylings of North Carolina’s Elvis Depressdley. There is still a recognisably lo-fi and sorrowful glow to the basic, and often abrasive, production. But, the increased energy of the arrangements only heightens the emotional content. The guitar in the title track is discordant and intrusive, which makes those bass lines seem less lethargic, but instead restless and disobedient. The lyrical content seems to explore the surrounding emotional trauma and emptiness around a messy divorce. This is perfectly highlighted by the mid song lull where truly personal and cutting lyrics gliding over slow, melancholic chords.
The slower, one minute and thirty-four second song, “My Gay Mouth” certainly breaks the pace of the EP. The most prominent thing to note about this song is the first, and only, appearance of female vocals. While the roughness of the singing is something upon which opinions may differ, the Beat Happening-esque style is a fresh approach for Princess Reason. The vocals (and guitar for that matter) are scrappy, but honest; they refuse to hide away, and unashamedly inject themselves into the songs. This is especially prevalent in such lines as “I’m terrified that you’ll leave me with nothing but your cool clothes, and they won’t be cool anymore”. Despite being sonically different to the rest of the EP, “My Gay Mouth” adds some welcome variety through its direct and hectic approach.
The final track “Drag + Blur” is perhaps the most reminiscent of the bands past. It combines straightforward drums, rolling bass, and a desperate ‘sad-pop’ chorus to great effect. It is the guitar however that really pulls everything together in a different way to previous releases. Often demanding, occasionally shy, but most prominently urgent; the guitar is the perfect accompaniment to lyrics of wasted youth and broken love; “drag through the week to blur through the end”.
Your Divorce it is a landmark turn for Princess Reason. They have stopped hiding away in sadness, realising that its okay be a little scared or angry sometimes, and its okay to and let it out. Because then, and only then, can you pick yourself back up and be stronger from it… And that, is what the overly ambiguous ending of my indie film might be about.