Single Reviews: Prima - "Devil" and "Open Up"

Prima - Devil
(2014 Birthday Tape)

In the DIY community, sometimes the magic of the singles leading up to an album can be lost or overlooked. What I've always enjoyed about following medium-sized labels like Slumberland and Captured Tracks is the buildup to a highly anticipated release, each new single and news item like a trip to your grandparents' house just before Christmas, a handful of fun presents to tide you over for the major haul you've been patiently waiting for. Who could forget those months before DIIV's debut record? There was a name change, a display of the many styles on the record, (there's a world of difference between "Doused" and "Sometimes"), even a single that was not used later. That energy of anticipation is evident on the Bandcamp page of New Orleans-based synth-pop project Prima. Over the past 3 months, the project has unveiled two singles, each a small work of art on its own. The first of these is Devil, a lo-fi look at goth-pop through a VHS lens.

The album artwork for both singles is lovely, and they each do a good job of capturing the essence of their respective releases. Devil's is unsettling; the blurry juxtaposition of an angel statue against an overcast sky forms a haunting vibe, made even more powerful by the soft, italicized band name and the Cocteau Twins-esque border. The three tracks on the single are all-too fitting. The intro to the title tune is a grimy, chugging rhythm, engulfed by synths that to me, would make a good soundtrack for a lazer tag arena. After "Melon", a brief industrial interlude, you'll hear the b-side, "Nearer My God To Thee". It sort of reminds me of the untitled single that came with copies of MBV's "Isn't Anything", flimsy ambient trellises surrounded by a cacophony of noisy samples and fractured beats.

Prima - Open Up
(2014 Birthday Tape)

The 2nd single from the upcoming album, which was just recently revealed to be titled "Staircase Anthem", is, as its artwork might suggest, more lighthearted than its predecessor, but still undeniably creepy. "Open Up", the title track, is a lot more melodic than what you've heard previously, carried by a shuffling drum machine that reminds me of Heavenly Beat. The vocals are reminiscent of 80s new wave pop groups like A-Ha and Tears For Fears, and the track concludes with a surprising dubstep breakdown. "Today (I'm Okay)", continues with the same mood and atmosphere, but with much darker lyrical content. It's actually the most beautiful and catchy track I've heard from Prima thus far, though its length makes it a bit inaccessible. Overall, Open Up is a very lovely single that acts as a contrast to the gothic vibe heard on Devil