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- Clay Class by Prinzhorn Dance School
8/10 Andy L Customer review, 16th February 2014
Prinzhorn Dance School are a tough sell. In an era of London Grandma style shimmery, 'xx' rip-off twaddle, PDS are as rough as it comes. Guitars are sparse and wiry like an early Fall record, drums clatter with precision whilst leaving holes in the sound, an aesthetic of less is, well, less, but no more than it needs to be. The calm and charismatic lead singer is oddly complimented by a woman shouting in the background. That they are out of step is undeniable, but more to the point is, has everyone one else got it wrong? 'Clay Class' is not an easy record, but those who have slated it as a pointless retread of their debut have failed to make the effort; whilst superficially similar, their world view seems to have clicked with the new circumstances of austerity and bad tempered curmudgeonliness. Lyrically, they've certainly moved on, the brief but well-pitched character assassinations having largely made way for more expansive, reflective observations, both personal and social. 'Crisis Team' and 'I Want You' are gorgeously skewed takes on love, peans to the addictive, unhealthy qualities of bad relationships ('I feed the crisis in your life/ Can't breathe with no accident'), whilst 'Your Fire Has Gone Out' closes with a stunning litany of unnerving images ('F*** bruises on skinny arms') and humerously tragic observations ("I'm outside by a tree and need taking home/ I'm hammered') from a mannered but uncomfortably realistic picture of modern Britain, the repetition and stylised delivery worthy of a Mark E. Smith for once capable of understatement. There's social commentary here, but as much in the sound as the message, the grey, minimalist twists and gyrations of guitar and bass evoking the feel of a declining city in the 1980's, all concrete and dirt with an undercurrent of unhealthy, pent up energy. Prinzhorn Dance School are a tough sell, but so is the modern world. Any band in touch with it is likely to be a touch discomfiting, but I think that's all to the good.
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