Prince Rama Gets Xtreme
Prince Rama is undoubtedly one of the weirdest duo’s I’ve ever encountered. I first saw them when they opened for Dan Deacon. With a touring member, the band gave an electrifying performance. Whether their energy came from a standing drummer or from the seamless way music-making transitioned into stage show and back again, Prince Rama immediately hooked me. And their recorded material backed their live performance. Powerful and fresh, Top Ten Hits of The End of The World quickly became a go to album.
Their latest, Xtreme Now, keeps all the same trappings of Top Ten Hits of The End of The World while pushing the duo’s sound to the next level. The 11 song album blends sitar-like quarter tones with pummeling drums and catchy vocal melodies much like its predecessor. That said, Xtreme Now seems more realized, more lush, and more cohesive than Prince Rama’s previous material.
The album begins with a rephrasal of the Ghostbuster’s theme before Prince Rama’s jittering drums and trademark pitch-shifting vocals diffuse over the iconic melody. Although the duo starts the album with a sample, it doesn’t take long for Prince Rama to make the melody their own. “Bahia” is a good indication for what’s to follow–its space is filled with complex and dance-inducing rhythms.
Xtreme Now is the best kind of collages. In its rhythms and melodies, you can hear bits and pieces of its disparate influences, but the album exists as its own piece entirely. There are hints of the cocaine-fueled 80s, of Hare Krishna-like chanting, of indie pop fragmentation, but nothing gets preference in the remix machine of Prince Rama.
A good example of this is “Believe In Something Fun.” The track’s playful lyrics jump through the poppy and almost overwhelmingly complex percussion. Under these initial layers, the ghosts of Herbie Hancock’s synths play hide and seek. While the duo crosshatches vocal melodies, a guitar fills any empty space left in the song. “Believe In Something Fun” is truly the dance number 2016 has been looking for.
The album ends with the anthemic, “Shitopia.” A bit of a redirection from the album’s electronic soundscapes, “Shitopia” builds itself more traditionally with guitars and standard song structure. Even while working in a different form, Prince Rama injects their unique voice into the song.
In all, Xtreme Now takes power pop to a new level. Reinventing the genre with a keen and energetic voice, Xtreme Now is the perfect record for fans of Grimes, Radiation City, Dan Deacon, and other weird electronic pop. That said, Prince Rama is unlike any of these bands. Listening to Prince Rama is like being transported to a world where the rulers are musicians and the currency is dance moves. Also this world is on the brink of destruction. Also this world is the size of your living room. Confused? Listen to Xtreme Now and it’ll all make sense.