The Endless Prom
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Back in July, we covered Iowaís 80/35 music festival
and were struck by how many of the highlights of the day went to Iowan-bred bands. Fairfieldís Little Ruckus
stole the show at the first of the after-parties, Amesís Mumfordís
tore the afternoon a new asshole, and our old pals in Christopher the Conquered
made the leap to the mainstage for one of the most memorable performances in the festivalís history. We talked with most of the bands there from Sweat Power Records and those on Maximum Ames Records, and the overall impression we got was the sense of community between all of the artists despite the crazy differences in music and tone. The Endless Prom
by newest MA artist Trouble Lights is further proof of the idea that anything goes in Iowa....as long as itís good.
To say that The Endless Prom
is the most surprising effort of Maximum Ames to date is a bit of an understatement. MAís home to the indie-pop of The Poison Control Center, a budding Elton John in Christopher the Conquered, and the kitchen-sink brew of funk, rock, and god knows what in Mumfordís, but Trouble Lights takes a different path by making a straight-up dance-pop album. Despite being the newest additions, vocalist Adrien Daller and producer Philip Rabalais are no rookies - Dallerís a professional in the musical theater world and Rabalaisís been making beats in various forms for ages. As such, this does not feel like the work of a couple of jack-off kids with too much money and time on their hands. This is the work of seasoned pros much like that of their Maximum Ames brethren.
Perhaps the strongest asset of The Endless Prom
is the fully formed world that it creates during its nine tracks. Almost immediately, the album establishes a seductive air of mystery and never lets up. While those that have came before them are content to have a few minor key tunes, the inevitable, sassy, by-the-numbers upbeat numbers seem to dominate the radio. Such a pandering turn never occurs in The Endless Prom
. The recurring theme of heartbreak isnít exactly a novel idea in this genre of music, but itís done incredibly well here thanks to the performances of the duo. Rabalaisís beats create the steamy, sultry atmosphere of a semi-lucid night on the town through the dense, throbbing synthesizers that never seem content to stop flitting about. Also contributing to the feel of a half-remembered, blurry afterimage of an evening are Dallerís show-stopping vocals. Thereís no breathy, auto-tuned slutwave present here, only the perfectly placed notes of a professional. Tracks like ďHuntingĒ and ďRide this HorseĒ do the most to show off her impressive pipes, frequently climbing the scales to belt out the soaring notes at the higher end of her register.
The sense of impending danger that hangs over the album like a storm cloud ready to burst is an invaluable asset to The Endless Prom
. Thereís no explicit tales of an insane woman slashing an exís tires, but the vulnerable yet determined vocals deepen the sense that this is a woman who might be one bad relationship away from a mental breakdown. But despite this danger slithering its tendrils across every corner of the album, Daller never comes off as a fragile woman in search of a white knight. This is a chronicle of a defiant, strong young woman trying to find love in a world that seems to only value week-long trysts or one-night stands.
Thereís a few moments on The Endless Prom
that feel a bit off to me, but thereís fairly negligible. Dallerís precise, measured vocals are one of the strongest points of the albums, but at a few moments she seems restrained. Were she able to allow herself to really layer some stank at certain moments of the album, the sense of danger would only be heightened. Thereís also a few moments where the songs feel a bit too long, but thatís neither here nor there. Adrien Dallerís got an smoky, bewitching presence that feels more authentic than any dance-pop Iíve ever heard, and Philip Rabalais is making massive, labyrinthine beats that reveal more and more with each listen as well as get asses shaking. Seriously - the guy is making beats that would make so-called professional producers absolutely green with envy. Despite a few niggling issues, The Endless Prom is an extremely confident work from a very promising group in a genre that seems content to cannibalize itself every few years. Get The Endless Prom
, and get dancing.
1. Truu Love
2. Call You Up
4. Fire Night
5. Safe With Me
7. Ride This Horse