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Prophet Hens - The Wonderful Shapes of Back Door Keys

  by Carl Bookstein

published: 6 / 9 / 2016

Prophet Hens - The Wonderful Shapes of Back Door Keys
Label: Occultation Recordings
Format: CD


Well-crafted pop on second album from the Prophet Hens, who have arisen out of Dunedin, New Zealand's rich music scene

With a storied history, the current Dunedin, New Zealand music scene is pivotal and happening, including psych rock greats from David Kilgour & Heavy Eights to the Shifting Sands. The Prophet Hens have emerged from Dunedin with a different kind of sound, featuring a distinctive pop alchemy. This harkens back to the original Dunedin Sound- a style of indie pop music created in the early 1980s. Back then Dunedin punk and jangly psychedelic influenced guitar work merged. The Prophet Hens seem to draw on this Dunedin Sound tradition. Their second album, 'The Wonderful Shapes of Back Door Keys', begins with 'Oh Wait, It’s Me, Isn’t It'- chiming jangle pop guitar from the get go, into the tandem flowing male, female vocals. This brings to mind Michael Stipe with the B52’s Kate Pierson and her guest appearance on REM’s 'Out of Time' album. The effect is evocative and rich - both the vocals and the swirling instrumentals. 'Popular People' follows: “Popular people do popular people,” sings the keyboard player Penelope Esplin, her lead vocal bringing to mind Courtney Barnett here. The effect is poignant and melodic with stirring keyboards and a piercing effect. 'Basically' is another chiming group vocal, again with effective instrumentation. 'Heavy Blossom' is bright and appealing with positive lyrics, including: “We made it on time” and “Coming up roses.” 'Songman' is stirring from the start. The Prophet Hens create rich pop craft, and are as indebted to REM as well as UK jangle pop as to any Dunedin Sound. “Am I getting it right this time?” sings its songwriter Karl Bray. “Maybe all my ducks are aligned.” '“D Modal' is the somewhat mesmerising closer, with a bit of a psych rock turn here, that washes over the listener like a river, subtly powerful and engaging, as the music reverberates to its close. The Prophet Hens do a fine job on this, their second album - as music coming out of Dunedin continues to fascinate.

Track Listing:-
1 Oh Wait It's Me Isn't It
2 Popular People
3 Basically
4 Drunk in a Park
5 Heavy Blossom
6 Good Shadow
7 Songman
8 Friends
9 I Might Not Be Right
10 Only One
11 D Modal

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