Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Prefab Sprout - From Langley Park to Memphis (1988)

VALENTINE'S DAY SPECIAL part III: For the love birds

Not quite a complete antipode to The Trash Can Sinatras, but definitely a band rooted in the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, purveying an unbridled optimism without any hints of maudlin sentiments. These guys are all about lovey-dovey atmospherics. In my book, Prefab Sprout are undoubtedly the most romantic band in the history of recorded music. You just have to hear it to know what I mean. It’s chock full of beatitude and idealism. Yeah you got the classic romantics like Stevie Wonder, and so many other ballad makers of 60s, 70s,and 80s; Bread’s “If,” Croce's "Time in a Bottle" and all the rest. But I’m not just talking about “romantic” in the strictest sense of the word, but romantic in the dreamy, picturesque sense, like Herman Hesse describes in Steppenwolf, “soaring on the wings of youth and poetry” This intrinsic “romance” is seeping in Prefab Sprout’s music and the lyrical themes. Starting off with a barrage of heavenly pop hits then slowing the tone down a bit towards the latter half of the record, From Langley Park to Memphis flows so smoothly, like a perfect day with a special person and like any romantic album should.

Songs like the reminiscent “I Remember That” and big beat and correlating bass lines of “Enchanted” (complete with Romeo and Juliet references) are just meant to be listened to by happy couples on a date in a car on the drive to nowhere or an intimate night at home on an old record player. Then you have songs like “Nightingales” which is a gorgeous ode to a lover and perhaps the crest of the romanticism here. “Hey Manhattan” bottles the excitement and liveliness of the New York City’s magical nightlife: a meteoric, melodic medley of youthfulness. The only exception to this rule is “Knock on Wood” which is a cautionary tale of love gone wrong. But aside from that, at its core, this is a sweet, simpering record for sweethearts to sit quietly or dance under the stars to or do whatever lovestruck couples do (I’ve never experienced “love” and the girl who I do love wants nothing to do with me so I can only speculate these things as a man who knows only one night stands and fleeting relationships *frowny face*) The slower paced final two tracks, wind down the album lazily and with ample grace. From Langley Park to Memphis is perfect and adorable Valentine’s Day music. Burn it to a cd and give it to your lover. I'm sure, good taste willing, he or she will appreciate it.

Rating: 9.5/10


1 comment:

  1. Jezy began writing this review before me, but I beat him to the punch. Here's his brief hyperbolic opening paragraph:

    "I’ve put off writing this “review” for a handful of reasons, chief among them my inherent sloth and laziness. It would be much simpler if that were my only hang-up here, but the truth is that Prefab Sprout’s From Langley Park to Memphis is a record so enjoyable that it’s hard to write about. So much of this album is sheer pleasure button-stroking. It’s like saying, “Give me 500 words on the deliciousness of ice cream,” or “Defend the leisurely nightswim.”