Some records put you in a good state with the first few chords and complete disregard for the mood you had when you pressed “Play.” King of Prussia’s Save the Scene EP is definitely such a collection of music. Easily compelling a smile on the face and keen attention to each coming word and note, Save the Scene mesmerizes listeners with beguiling lyrics, rich male singing, sensual female backing vocals, shimmering guitars, and gorgeous, textured melodies.
Though based in Athens, Georgia, King of Prussia often sounds British, not least in accent. The band exudes 60s vibes from across the pond on “Spain in the Summertime,” the sun drenched afternoon rocker that opens Save the Scene. King of Prussia’s lyrical acumen is evident even bilingually: “Her parents just saw me as one thing the Good Book forbade / So she married a clergyman I counted gold by the bay / I purchased a shuttlecraft / She told me, ‘¡Siempre eres mi corazon!’ / But Spain in the summertime’s no fun to do on your own.” The next two tracks, “Misadventures of the Campaign Kids” and “Shades of Hippiedom,” each pursue different routes within a 60s ambience. “Misadventures of the Campaign Kids” deftly blends crunchy guitars and swirling, high-pitched keyboard lines, while “Shades of Hippiedom” could be mistaken for a long lost joint recording by The Association and The Moody Blues. “Cheerleaders,” Save the Scene’s sole foray into country, adds numerous vocalists and a buoyant handclap throughout its brief run.
The EP’s final three songs are its slowest and most dramatic, beginning with “The Doctor and the Mathematicians.” Tightly controlled vocals, reverberating keyboards, and ominous strings build tension and intrigue, marking “The Doctor and the Mathematicians” as one of the highlights of Save the Scene. “Terrarium” follows with its own suspense. Awash in island rhythms and emotive guitar licks, soaring sighs and wails, and pleading lyrics, “Terrarium” remains mystical even through multiple listens. Images of The Mamas & The Papas backing up The Jam come to mind, but that doesn’t do justice to such an inspired piece of music.
Save the Scene concludes with its most gripping song, “Physics Never Stood a Chance.” Composed with warm wit and delivered with a crushing combination of emotional voice inflection, restrained piano, and soft guitars, “Physics Never Stood a Chance” dissects a doomed relationship with unprecedented resonance. King of Prussia presents a piece that is clever but never snarky. The EP’s slowest track is its most significant, weaving through love and loss with vivid imagery: “I feel I’m losing ever faster / Your lips, your love, your over-laughter / Your time / I fled the scene you’ve long awaited / Us, vis-à-vis, unwed, unjaded / By time / I raced home / To capture you in song / But your will’s too strong / I can’t write you into my life / In my greatest work of fiction / Is it true that we don’t work on paper? / I’d hesitate to call you mine / You’ve given me no reason to / I’d curse laws of physics and astral signs / But they’re founded in beliefs / Just what someone else perceives / If we both drew straight lines / They’d pass like cold pedestrians / I have no designs / We can’t be what you don’t want to be.”
What lies in the future for King of Prussia remains to be heard and seen, but the band’s first record is a masterpiece most artists spend years seeking and rarely touch. Save the Scene shifts between moods and melodic drives, memorably displaying King of Prussia’s lyrical depth and talent for connecting with listeners immediately and consistently. Smart, sensuous, and sincere, Save the Scene has earned a high place among the year’s top releases. Savor this breathtaking achievement.