The Prophet Hens – Popular People Do Popular People (Fishrider) CD REVIEW

Prophet-HensI LOVE CHOOKS, I really do. I’ve got seven of my own, and I cry buckets just imagining the various appalling grades of harm that could come to them in this terrible, terrifying world.

In other words, I’m predisposed towards a group called The Prophet Hens, whose album features a bunch of characterful illustrations of hens standing on a cassette, and seemingly, mangling the tape.

It’s almost worth it for the cover alone. It HAS to be worth it for the cover alone, because the music isn’t much chop, really. The thing is, right from the get-go, it sounds pretty much exactly like a group trying to sound like the early, sing-song, faux-naïve version of The Chills. You know those songs that are so simple they could almost be nursery rhymes for grownups, but which sound a bit forced, and a bit numb? Yeah, like that.

And yes, The Prophet Hens are from Dunedin.

But honestly, if I want to listen to The Chills, then I’ll listen to (drum-roll, ta-da…) THE CHILLS. Except I’ll listen to good Chills like ‘Pink Frost’ or ‘Rolling Moon’ or a half dozen other great Chills songs.

The Prophet Hens, on the basis of the improbably titled Popular People Do Popular People (what does that even mean?), really love the things about early Flying Nun records that really sucked: the retrogressive/nostalgic mindset, the abominable inept guitar jangle, the horribly splashy, gutless drumming, and the general air of hopelessness and incompetence.
In 1981 on a nascent record label recording with the best gear they could afford, that was permissible. Just. In 2013, when anyone can make a great-sounding record in their bedroom, it’s inexcusable.

cd_reviews_august_3_51fa0f621bThere are only nine songs here, so at least it’s mercifully short. And to be honest, it does get a little better as it goes on. Near the end, there were a couple of songs that bore melody lines that were almost worthy of repetition. So, maybe if they all went away and got lobotomies, thereby ridding themselves of their nostalgic yearning for aspects of the Flying Nun aesthetic that never, ever should be regarded as ‘iconic’, then perhaps they could start again and disown this really average (and that’s being kind) recording. GARY STEEL

Music = 2.5/5
Sound = 2.5/5

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