Album Review: Prawn - Run

Written by Maddy Howell

Having been on the scene for almost ten years, New Jersey’s Prawn have always had a knack for steering clear of cliché. With a style that intertwines elements of post-rock, emo, pop-punk and math rock, it was on the haunting, orchestral-tinged 2014 album 'Kingfisher' that the band set themselves apart from their contemporaries. Having already proven their capability of crafting exquisite brass sections, intricate strings, poignant lyrical storytelling and pushing the boundaries in experimentally ambitious ventures – Prawn are back.

From the get-go, it’s clear that 'Run' is a more direct take on the band’s sound, as opener Hunter bursts into life. The strings and horns have been ditched, as a more traditional and accessible band sound echoes through, giving the quartet opportunity to focus on their lugubrious melodies. Tom Clarke’s distinct cries of: “I hope it’s enough // because love I am ready,” immediately smooth over any doubt that Prawn have drifted from their punchy, engaging lyrical style, backed by rollicking guitar tones.

Despite losing some of the more tender components of their instrumentals, Prawn remain just as emotionally resonant on this release, with overriding themes of isolation and abandonment. Snake Oil Salesman and North Lynx balance the line perfectly between the infectious, fast-paced and frantic aspects of the band’s sound and the more familiar twinkly, delicate moments. It’s this balance that presents 'Run' as a natural progression for the band, enabling it to slot seamlessly into their discography whilst serving beautifully as an album in its own right.

'Run' never comes across as predictable, with ideas formed on track openings proved laughably wrong within moments. Cricket in the Ward opens on a pop-punk riff, before dropping into 90s emo reminiscent verses and progressing into a bridge crammed with post-rock influence. Prawn seem to be constantly re-inventing themselves from track to track, providing a refreshing and invigorating progression from their early work.

The melodies are bewildering, always building and dropping in the precisely perfect moments. Downbeat track Short Stem begins as a ravishing display of Clarke’s vocal talents, before delicate guitar tones work their way in and build to a striking climax of stampeding percussion. Where the track drops off, Rooftops picks up straight away, rebuilding pace and intensity in an ardent display of Prawn’s musical growth.

If the twisting paths and endless genre switch-ups of 'Run' had left anyone lost along the way, album closer Split Logs is sure to bring them back on track. With its hypnotic vocals and math-y guitars, the record concludes in a comfortable and more-than-familiar zone for Prawn, proving that they haven’t lost the ability to do what they’ve always done best.

Although it’s quite a significant switch in direction from their previous works, this release shows Prawn maturing as a band and exercising their versatility incredibly. 'Run' displays a band setting out to expand their sound and refusing to settle on rehashing old ideas, presented with enough ferocity and passion to ensure everyone knows it.