Prints: Prints
Temporary Residence

Accompanying press notes trumpet Prints' self-titled release as a sonic distillation of Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, Brian Eno, and Brian Wilson, a pitch that doesn't do collaborators Kenseth Thibideau (Tarentel, Sleeping People, Pinback) and Zac Nelson (Who's Your Favorite Son God) any favours by setting up standards that few, if any, new group endeavors could match. But disregard the promotional hyperbole, and Prints' release starts sounding a whole lot more tolerable, and even, in places, great.

Even after repeated exposure to Prints' lean, 35-minute set, one strains to hear evidence of Talking Heads, Gabriel, or Eno, though Prints does embrace an eclectic approach to instrumentation and assembles its home-recorded material with precision (the robotic drum stomp and skeletal chants in “Pretty Tick” do suggest a Devo influence, of all things). But it's certainly no stretch to hear Prints as a heavily-influenced descendant of The Beach Boys. The multi-tiered, stereophonic vocal harmonies in “Easy Magic” clearly nod in the group's direction and the song's lead vocal even vaguely suggests Carl Wilson, and using a distorted thumb piano for the ricocheting melody in the background is an inspired Brian Wilson-like touch too. It's the vocalising that impresses most, so much so that, by the song's close, one is left marveling at the awesome arrangement. Not surprisingly, the band's music appeals less when vocals are downplayed, as the near-instrumental “I Wanna Know” makes clear.

Stylistic plenitude elevates Prints' material, much as it does Sunflower, and Prints occasionally exhibits a ‘60s-styled propensity for druggy experimentalism: “Meditation” enters psychedelic drone territory by merging acoustic guitars and a croaking choir, while a jarring mosaic of swirling synths, ecstatic chants, and aggressive drum beats slowly comes together during the trance-like “End.” The jubilant samba “Blue Jay” nicely showcases the group's breezy side (helped along by the bright trill of Mark Lacsamana's flute), while the party romp “Too Much Water” indulges a rock'n'roll side that, yes, calls to mind Beach Boys' classics like “Surfin' USA,” “Marcella,” and others.

October 2007