ALBUM REVIEW: Pram Do What Only They Can Do on ‘Across the Meridian’

A surrealistic trip through worldly exotica, lounge, jazz, B-movies and psych-pop.

Many of my favorite indie bands focus on a singular sound, where each album varies only slightly from the last, never attempting to reinvent the wheel. Beach House, Clinic, the Clientele, Real Estate, Luna and Stereolab all come to mind.

I think creating a signature sound is one of the greatest musical achievements for a band, as it expresses true vision and creativity. British pop experimentalists Pram are one of those unmistakable groups, but more than any of the others mentioned they create vibes more than songs. This is certainly the case on their 10th album, Across the Meridian, released by indie stalwart Domino Records.

Describing a Pram song is difficult, but summoning the moods they conjure is not. Pram take the listener on a surrealistic trip through worldly exotica, lounge, jazz, B-movie soundtracks and psychedelic pop. At various times they’re a toy monkey banging the symbols, a fortune teller’s maniacal laugh, the ghost of Duke Ellington leading his big band, a snake charmer in a dusty market, a circus gone mad, a midnight screening of a cult horror film and an outlandish party at Andy Warhol’s Factory.

While Across the Meridian isn’t as strong as 2003’s exceptional Dark Island, it’s still a fine collection of mysterious and haunting music that should keep old fans happy and will hopefully introduce this underrated group to new ears.

Score: 👻 👻 👻/5