With a title like Wrist Slitter anticipation was of the darkest emotional and imposing persuasion but as the new album from Matt Pryor unveils its persuasion expectations were soon thrown a curve ball. There is certainly rich shadows and at times keen melancholia to the release but for the main it is an upbeat and vibrant romp of energy, emotive light, and thoroughly enjoyable enterprise. The album took a couple of songs for thoughts and satisfaction to get a hold and find an understanding for the refreshing offering but once connected the release provides a unfussy yet resourcefully crafted imaginative romp.
Renowned as the frontman for The Get Up Kids, Pryor has garnered just as eager acclaim for folk-tinged group The New Amsterdams, his children’s music project Terrible Twos, and indie-rock super group Lasorda which also features Nate Harold (fun.), Mike Standberg (Kevin Devine & The Goddamn Band), and Dustin Kinsey (The New Amsterdams). His own releases have also bred strong responses and respect but Wrist Slitter takes it to another level as Pryor’s finest solo moment. Released via Alcopop! Records in the UK, it is a magnetic feast of creatively flavoured rock pop leaving a healthy smile on the face and in the passions.
The album opens as if set in a jazz driven twenties speakeasy, excited echoes of the past awakening the imagination before Pryor thrusts his sounds through the door to send them down an expanse of melodic pop rock in the accomplished guise of The House Hears Everything. Guitars and rhythms make an instant appeal to the emotions and without sparking major reactions wins their attention whilst the vocals of their sculptor equally lays down a strong start. As mentioned the song and the following Kinda Go To Pieces do not light a fire inside but certainly spark a decent appetite for their declarations, the second song like its predecessor providing an easy to access catchy stroll with hooks and melodies infectious if not startling in their ingenuity, a healthy enticement.
It is from the title track that Wrist Slitter suddenly turns on a distinctive and irresistible charm. The brief track complete with Cajun twang and invasive drone is a delicious and unexpected twist from which the album only expands and excels starting with the outstanding Words Get In the Way, the best track on the album. From its first breath rhythms make a firm frame for the dark throated bass and guitar swipes to grip and enthral the senses, whilst vocally the mix of Pryor and guest Steve Soboslai of Punchline makes a mouthwatering invitation into the heart and swagger of the song. There is an Everclear essence to the track which only adds to its immense lure whilst its contagious melodic coaxing and potent hooks creates an aural dance which is impossible to resist; only its briefness a slight niggle.
The acoustic folk opening to Before My Tongue Becomes a Sword makes a gentle entrance after a breath into another impressive and energetic prowl of the passions. The two parts do not seem connected, certainly in sound but work well as the subsequent romping blaze of pop punk seduces attention and imagination. With again guest vocals, this time from Chris Conley of Saves The Day and Braid’s Bob Nanna, and Bontempi like keys the song is a lo-key high appealing slice of melodic adventure immediately equalled by the bouncy If I Wear a Disguise. An eighties new wave feel coats the melodies whilst vocally Pryor has an earnest upbeat energy and emotional depth to his delivery to match the enthusiastic sounds around him.
The evocation of As Perfect As We’ll Ever Be is soon slowly burning its mark in thoughts and emotions, its strings a melancholic caress alongside an acoustic guitar kiss and the vocal narrative, before the Squeeze like Foolish Kids, with Pryor finding a definite Glenn Tilbrook lilt to his voice to match the UK band’s melodic prowess, weaves a pleasing embrace over the ears. Say What You’re Gonna Say also has potency and appeal seemingly sparked by the Deptford band, a thrilling hook laded melodic call instantly acquiring the passion’s support with again its short length of a few breaths over one minute again the only irritant.
The slower emotive walk of So Many Questions like the two before carries that Squeeze tone whilst the addictive hope wrapped emotive ramble of There Is No Us recalls the Everclear comparison in a merger with The Super Happy Fun Club. Both bring the listener into a relaxed state ready for the closing energetic saunter of the punkier Won’t Speak To Me which eventually leads the listener into a reprise of the opening scenery. It is an excellent conclusion to a richly pleasing and enthralling release, one which to be honest strongly exceeds what were maybe low expectations, those assumptions soon shoved back to their source with a creative craft and smiling adventure which leaves satisfaction very happy.
Wrist Slitter is available now on CD and 150 ltd edition blue marble vinyl and will be supported by a 9-date headline tour around the UK (with support from Allison Weiss) early next year.
UK TOUR DATES: February 2014:
14 – Southampton, Joiners
15 – Kingston, Fighting Cocks
16 – Nottingham, Bodega
17 – Newcastle, Cluny
18 – Glasgow, Cathouse
20 – Manchester, Sound Control
21 – Bristol, The Exchange
22 – London, The Borderline
23 – Tunbridge Wells, The Forum
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