Album Review: Giants Chair – Prefabylon

  • Peter Hough posted
  • Reviews

Giants Chair

Prefabylon - Spartan Records

From the opening feedback howl-drenched, arrhythmic pulse of opener Rust Belt Rooster, there’s an almost tangible sense of excitement about where this record is going to go. What follows is ten tracks of sublimely idiosyncratic rock that, despite its heavy emphasis on broken time signatures and wilfully obtuse chord progressions, does not fall into a godawful head up its own arse math-rock vortex. The first record in 23 years from the so-called ’emo veterans’, Prefabylon is an almost perfect example of how years of writing songs and touring can become the engine of a machine that cannot do anything but create wonderful music.

At times awkward and sometimes uneasy listening, this album also defies itself by not veering away from melody. At times, it’s massively radio-friendly rock, the kind of thing a more adventurous Dave Grohl might attempt. But that’s a cheap reference. There is much to find a familiar comfort in here, but nothing to deflect you from having to listen. Self-deprecating about their talent, Giants Chair have musical dexterity aplenty. Songs like Russian Racehorse demonstrate a masterful understanding of restrained power and underline that whatever their pedigree in the Midwestern emo scene, Giants Chair are a full-on rock band.

And then, like on an old school vinyl album of yore, the closing track House Lights is a meandering and reflective ramble. It’s still awkward, stuttering and full of an angsty power that closes this record brilliantly. No doubt the shuffle generation won’t feel the intent and artistry in saving this thundering ballad for the end. Their loss.

Twenty-three years is a long time to be away. This record shows that the time doing other things and just living life was the slow cooker this magnificent record needed. Unlike a lot of re-emerging bands, Giants Chair don’t have a glittering future behind them. It’s all still to play for and on the strength of this record, I reckon there’s another 23 good years in them yet. I hope so.

Prefabylon is out now on Spartan Records.