American outfit Priory packs a lot of endearing charm into its self-titled debut LP. With starry optimism, touching lyrics and melodies, and constantly interesting music, the record is both emotionally calming and catastrophic. Surprisingly, rather than warrant comparisons to national contemporaries, Priory bares an arguably intangible semblance with early 90s Britpop.
Formed a few years ago, the Portland quartet describes their music as “rooted in folk, with the hooks of the best pop, the energy of electronic instrumentation, and the solid backbone of punk rock percussion. In addition, the use of eclectic vocal harmonies brings an anthemic charge.” Like all the best pop music, the truly magical element is the production, which features horns, hand clapping, and plenty of exquisite sounds.
After the dreamy electronic pop intro of “Worthy Dreams,” the somber grace of “Kings of Troy” begins. It’s a catchy and poignant expression of love that, like every track on Priory, would be perfect as a single. “Lady of Late” is like a more lush and layered Coldplay track, and “Coal Mine” features wonderful interplay between percussion, horns, and acoustic guitar. The bare bones majesty of “Red Sun” makes it a standout track. Finally, the electronic pop outro “Sleep” gives the album a nice sense of cohesion.
Priory is like a superb synthesis of modern rock, 90s Britpop, and the production of the Beach Boys’ seminal Pet Sounds. Each track is full of wonderful sounds and gripping honesty, and as a whole, the album flows with effortless care. These songs will cut you deep and stay with you for a long time.