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The Prom | Under The Same Stars (Barsuk)
Whilst its press release cleverly steers you away from the most obvious comparison a three-piece piano, bass and drums set-up would elicit, Jason Mendenhall, David Broecker and Joel Brown ?? aka The Prom ?? do, on the likes of Brighter Than The Moon and A Note on rge Kitchen Table, inhabit territory mapped out by Ben Folds Five. 'Under The Same Stars' is this Seattle-based band's second full-length and first for hip indie Barsuk, (the EP 'Saloon Song + 2' gave a taster, produced by Chris Walla of Barsuk's flag-bearing Death Cab For Cutie), and is a beauty in every way. From the gold embossed heavy card sleeve (these things matter) to the Lotion-esque bounce of Room with White Walls and The Same Complaints, 'UTSS' boasts one memorable refrain after another, music to put a spring in the step and a smile on the face: but at a price. Beneath the jaunty surface lies a dark heart where lyrics tell of abandonment and loneliness, the price of love gone bad. "I don't think you see that you're killing me / Day after day I sit here and drink in a dark room with nothing to say / I wait for the end of my days" sings Mendenhall on Room with White Walls; and, on the presumably autobiographical, The Same Complaints, "I'm sorry but you deserve more than a friend that cares less for you than these stupid songs." Which seems more than a little harsh on this inspired work.

Matt Dornan
CWAS #11 - Autumn 2002