Clay Class

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aec.dfa2282.2 1/31/12 New
$7.63 $8.98

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Review

Review Text Even if Prinzhorn Dance School did nothing during the five years between their 2007 self-titled debut and Clay Class, it would have been time well spent: their dour distrust and wry paranoia were more in keeping with the state of the world in the early 2010s than the pre-recession 2000s. However, Tobin Prinz and Suzi Horn used their time away to make subtle but significant changes to their music. They couldn't get any sparser or shoutier than they were on Prinzhorn Dance School, so they added stuttering syncopation to their beats and more melody and harmony to their vocals and instrumentation. These changes might be barely noticeable in almost any other band's music, but Prinzhorn's previous songs were so bare and cryptic that any additional flesh on their bones makes a big difference. Similarly, Tobin's manifestos are easier to follow, and to perhaps gain a following. "Usurper" plays like a sequel to, and a translation of, their debut's "You Are the Space Invader," with the inevitability of progress, change, and obsolescence reflected in its unwavering beat. Prinz's cold, raspy voice is perfect for pronouncements like the excellent single "Seed, Crop, Harvest"'s refrain "got off the treadmill, treadmill/Got in the breadline, breadline." While Clay Class lacks Prinzhorn Dance School's revolutionary outbursts, it more than makes up for them with subversive reflections and critiques that are withering instead of fiery. "I was saved by the splendour of Britain in bloom," Prinz intones on the stunted dirge "The Flora and Fauna of Britain in Bloom," where a tin of mixed fruit calls for a special occasion; meanwhile, "Sing Orderly"'s seeming non sequiturs create a more abstract, and sinister, picture of consumerism and conformity. Though the emphasis on melody might make these songs easier to swallow, there's no mistaking the bitter tinge that runs through them. Paradoxically, Clay Class paints vivid portraits of want with its stark music, setting them against a wintry landscape of lonely architecture, granite-grey skies, skinny trees, and fallow fields -- but also purple poppies that grow through cracks in the pavement on "Happy in Bits," which ekes out some joy despite the album's somber tone. And for the first time, Prinzhorn Dance School sings about want on a personal level, which they find just as complicated as politics and philosophy. "I Want You" plays like a beautiful warning as Prinz and Horn sing "I want you/suffocate your soul/cage your freedom in a loving prison" over a seductively melancholy guitar melody, while "Crisis Team" admits that the complications of needing someone are often necessary, and often worth it, but once again lets the guitars do most of the talking. It's probably not coincidental that these are two of the album's finest moments; overall, Clay Class gives the feeling of bridges being built and dots being connected. While the thrill of decoding their transmissions is missed, this kind of reaching out is the best way for Prinzhorn Dance School to grow. ~ Heather Phares

Track Listing

CD: 1

  1. 1. Happy In Bits - 3:05
  2. 2. Usurper - 3:05
  3. 3. Seed, Crop, Harvest - 5:36
  4. 4. I Want You - 4:46
  5. 5. Your Fire Has Gone Out - 5:08
  6. 6. Crisis Team - 4:20
  7. 7. Flora and Fauna of Britain In Bloom - 3:12
  8. 8. Turn Up the Light - 5:27
  9. 9. Sing Orderly - 6:53
  10. 10. Right Night Kay West - 2:29
  11. 11. Shake the Jar - 3:54

Product Details

Release Date
1/31/12 

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