Sunday 14 July 2013

The Prophet Hens: Popular People Do Popular People

New Zealand has a new wave of new bands and their anthem is All Over The World by The Prophet Hens. It perfectly encapsulates the big bold ambition of Dunedin music with the quiet drama of isolation on a South Pacific island: part Chills organ-drenched pop, part bedroom angst (“I’ll try not to worry about people and the things they say”), its intent is to make a song that reaches out globally. And it does.

On their first album, The Prophet Hens do love bent out of shape (like the Teardrop Explodes) where psychedelic grandeur meets desolation. Like The Cure, they’ve got lush tunes and a lugubrious outlook, where misery meets melody (Green Blades Of Grass). Singer Penelope Esplin’s cool detachment, like Broadcast’s Trish Keenan or Kendra Smith in Opal, is coldly beautiful (High Times, for instance, is about a break up, not drugs).

Most obviously, The Prophet Hens share musical and geographical ground with The Chills. I know that The Chills released a new song a few weeks ago – I was as thrilled as you were, believe me – but I’m more excited about The Prophet Hens starting than The Chills returning. Popular People Do Popular People is a great start by a new band: it suggests possibilities and better things to come, and that’s always more exciting than an older band doing something almost as good as they once did.

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