Prudence – Better
It’s easy to underestimate the influence of people like Peter Gabriel or Kate Bush on the current generation making smart pop music. Both artists were, originally viewed as prog-rock agitators, quick to embrace theatricality and storytelling as tools to enhance their musical vision.
By the 1980s, both were producing elaborate music videos, and their music had become less reliant on the classic rock format. For the most part, it sounded sparse but well-arranged. It held traces of classic songwriting but introduced new vocal, guitar, and drum sounds. It mimicked the trends of the era, where machines were relied upon heavily for all sorts of activities. And, strangest of all, it was labeled “pop” by an accepting mainstream.
Prudence, the solo project of Tom Crandles, makes similarly serious pop music. Here, as with the MTV stars of the 1980s, the beat is meant to be compact, repetitive, and be the anchor of the song. The production is treated as an instrument, not just a gloss. The jazzy bass guitar often takes center stage. Better is clever. Introspective music turned into palatable pop sounds by Crandles’ light touch.
Ollie Happyness – Special
The stoner lifestyle is not for everyone. If you’ve never really smoked weed and experimented with other chemicals, it may mean that, unlike the rest of us, your brain is intact and you may be well advised to keep it that way. If you have and you ever happen upon Mr. Ollie Happyness, you may trust that sniffing his jacket could be enough to get you high.
However, if you’re considering just jumping into this lifestyle, be warned. Your expectation as you drive nervously towards your dealer might be to puff a bit of smoke and enter the kind of mellow Shangri-La that Indian gurus access through meditation or that Ollie Happyness happens upon through chemical means.
Special is one of the most laid-back songs you’re likely to hear in a while, by one of the most nonchalant and composed pop stars you’re likely to have seen or heard in a while. The song is indie-pop reduced to its most basic, breezy elements. If the company that manufactures Prozac comes calling for the rights to use it, I won’t be surprised.
The video tells the story of the events that followed a random police bust. If this is the way this guy deals with some of the biggest drama in his life, then we might surely have a thing or two to learn from him.