Wow, this Bandcamp stuff is getting so boring these days it almost makes me wanna stick some nondescript musical instrument into some random orifice on my body.
K so I get wind of these big shots Pram who have been around forever, who are British and who no one has obviously heard of… I’m expecting more hardcore punk and other such reliable tomfoolery , but right away I’m surprised by the poetic nature of these song titles: “Shimmer and Disappear”; “Thistletown”; “Ladder to the Moon”; etc. Unfortunately, there’s more disappearing being done on this album than shimmering, making you think Pram should have chosen the written word as their vocation. That is, for all the ornate instrumentation of these arrangements (trumpet, xylophone, military-sounding snares calling to mind “Strawberry Fields Forever” which is a song I hate anyway), it’s clear to anybody who ever listens to ENTERTAINING music once in a while that it’s nothing short of a daunting task to Pram to even CONSIDER giving one of these songs something like a memorable concept, anything more than this randomly slotted orchestra-doodling. These songs have rhythm, marginally, possibly less so than Glenn Miller, to whom Pram is implicitly compared on their Bandcamp blurb, and to markedly less of an extent than Zappa’s classic album Apostrophe, which, similar to Across the Meridian in musical rudiments, can at least be relied upon for some, you know, irreverent FUN. But maybe I’m just being an a**hole Yankee here. Time will tell.
But Across the Meridian is just antiquated doodling with no vision, or worse, the lack of guts (or surplus of pride) curtailing said vision from materializing. What’s going on in Britain today? To be honest, I’m not really too sure: Oasis hasn’t put out anything good since Beady Eye’s Be, Band of Skulls have fallen off since 2012’s albeit excellent Sweet Sour, I don’t think I’ve ever liked a British rapper unless you count Tricky, and that Menace Beach album, if not BAD, wasn’t exactly what you’d call, uh, heartwarming. Repeated listens exposed that last Jesus and Mary Chain album as fluffy etude. It seems they’re sort of pulling a Winston Churchill here, in the wake of Brexit, not really wanting to enter the WAR of meaningful musical expression, with the notable exception of course of London’s saxaphone jazz-girl Nubya Garcia, who updates the American art form with a little more speed, litheness and enthusiasm.