Review Summary: I'm waiting. I haven't waited long enough.
Although Joie De Vivre and Prawn share a record label in Topshelf Records and even belong to the same arbitrary genre of “emo”, these two bands are quite different in the way they approach their music. When it comes to Joie De Vivre (which is French for Cheerful Enjoyment of Life, ironically enough) listeners are treated with short, focused songs filled to the brim with twinkly guitar lines and melancholy lyrics. As for the New Jersey based Prawn, there seems to be more of a focus on the instrumental process, as their songs are longer and more experimental in nature, often perfectly blending post-rock aspects with traditional emo tendencies. But despite the differences to be found between the two bands, they seem to complement each other perfectly on this five track Split EP.
Listeners are first greeted with the Joie De Vivre side of the split, which consists of three songs all three minutes or less. While there are only seven minutes to be found on this side of the split, there is not a lack of memorable moments. Be it the roaring distorted guitar to end “Good Morning Mr. Franklin” or the final moments of “Tenstopet”, in which a trumpet plays out softly over trademarked twinkling guitar lines and minimalistic drumming, songs capture listeners and keep them hooked throughout its entirety. The songs flow into one another seamlessly, without blending together, each song somehow simultaneously being uniquely itself and part of the whole.
After a short seven minutes Prawn graces the split with “Why You Always Leave A Note”, a song that throws in nearly everything but the kitchen sink: call and response vocals, beautiful strings, reverbed guitar, dramatic pauses and even an Arrested Development reference thrown in for good measure. While only having two tracks, Prawn displays their prowess in writing relatively loud and chaotic emo music, with each track slipping in and out of typical structures and tropes of their genre. The album closer “Fracture” has an almost airy mood created by the instrumentation before lead singer Tony Clark quietly sings “I’m begging but I’m not broke / I lost you so long ago / I will wait here” pulling listeners right back into the melancholy that is Prawn.
One would find it hard to believe that within a mere five songs so much substance can be found, but both Prawn and Joie de Vivre manage to pack more into five tracks than most bands can do in a full length album. Although both bands released new music in 2012, this refreshing split shows why both of these bands are headlining the Emo Revival.