Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

Natalie Prass – Short Court Style

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Julian Axelrod: When we first met Natalie Prass, love had not been kind to her. She sang of fear and doubt and distance, the kind of casual cruelties we suffer with a rictus grin and stained mascara. These were songs about a love long past its expiration date, almost too painful for repeat listening. Fast forward three years and we have “Short Court Style”: a very different love song, but one that’s even more rewarding. Prass has said the song was inspired by a new relationship, and you can feel the heart beat stronger with every note. This is the sound of clouds parting, of hearts mending, of walking — no, dancing — on air. (Even the cuíca in the background sounds like it’s cheering her on.) Yet this is not a story of puppy love or the illusion of perfection. This is an ode to love that lasts, to hard-won happiness, to going through hell and coming out stronger on the other side.

Will Adams: What if the crushing melancholia of the last Niki & The Dove album were replaced with the warm contentment suggested by its lightly funky music? “Short Court Style” isn’t overly effusive in its celebration of newfound love, but it doesn’t need to be; it’s an ode to a good mood, the sense of peace as the new normal.

Alfred Soto: Clipped rhythm guitar, hand claps, a Rose Royce-indebted falsetto — “Short Court Style” flirts with the insufferable (imagine if Jenny Lewis had essayed something similar). But Prass has studied R&B’s terseness, and like early solo Raphael Saadiq she knows when to call it quits. 

Maxwell Cavaseno: Light airy pop with a soulful tint that reminds of the jokes Mayer Hawthorne was so crudely sketching a few years back, or of Hall & Oates jabbing at the arches of your foot when you weren’t looking. There’s a retroactive conservatism at play that at times feels dangerously close to being designed to serve as backing for moments of trite superficial technicolor sentiment, a pleasant antidote from the smudgy oily of the present with its sparse and crisp pristinity. Yet despite that troubling regiment, there’s a light airiness that manages to keep it feeling less about stance and more about softness.

Katie Gill: We really need a genre name for “cute, quirky, indie songs that will inevitably be in the background of an Apple commercial.” Because this is adorable! This is cute! I love the piano backing and the way Prass layers her harmonies! I am eating that vaguely 1970s throwback sound right UP. And that’s why I expect “Short Court Style” to be selling me iMacs or Diet Coke within the next month or so.

William John: Relationships can be completely discombobulating and upending, and most of us who attempt to engage in them are basically ignoramuses hoping we’re not the first one to muck it all up. So it’s rare territory that Natalie Prass finds herself in here — not because she’s surrounded by knotty guitar riffs, a cuica distorted to mimic an ecstatic yelp and delirious piano chords, but because she’s reached a point of romantic resolution, where all confusion suddenly dissolves, where cynicism is replaced by whimsy, and where you can employ sprightly confidence without reservation. It’s purposefully airy and slight — “Short Court Style” shows an understanding that these beatific moments are elusive, and best celebrated not with a run but instead with a smile and gentle skip.

Reader average: [9] (3 votes)

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