Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Brad Kopplin
It's a collision course they live on. The path that American Princes take to get from their front door to the mailbox, from the bathroom to the bedroom and from the cityscape to the country platter is one that's greased up with slick oil, loaded down with pesky ball bearings and scarily four times as liable to make someone break a tailbone or inherit a bumpy knot on their forehead as any ice hockey rink or bowling alley lane has been known to. The Little Rock, Arkansas, band has had a way of fusing itself with all of reckless and harried descriptive adjectives that are used to signify the intent of driving while blindfolded, with a pretty song playing on the car's stereo as they hit the first of a few trees - one of them potentially fatal, but always just potentially.
They've not been a band that's separated itself from the beauty and the beast portions of a pop song just to embrace one or the other. They've been known to gravitate to one or the other, but only for brief flashes of time, ever since the band formed five years ago in the state known for Wal-Marts and the Clintons. They always allow themselves to come back around to recalibrate into the thick milkshake of cold and hot sounds, warm and lukewarm bloods and needy and passive conveyance. They work the angles, blurring the lines between static and free air, blasting out of canons, aiming for a landing pit that isn't padded and there are no nets to account for defects or error. They've just pulled the goggles down overtop of their eyes and told the man with the fire to light the fuse and see what happens, what shakes out. Time and again, they land on their feet with nary a scratch on their bodies and in the same motion, they reach across their bodies and pull the break-away jumpsuit off to reveal a tuxedo and a bouquet of roses, ready for a serenade.
There are countless references to glum situations on the band's latest Yep Roc release, Other People, but they don't ever come at the expense of creating something with a hook and a heart-shaped box. David Slade, one of the four co-main songwriters in the band, sings about real love as if it were a gruesome den of vipers and Collins Kilgore sings about desperate self-destruction in a lonely, abject and dark town with a spice that gives it everything that we'd call bittersweet. The road to ruin is still paved with peppermint shards and sugared spikes according to these four dudes who might or might not have grown up with Police and Genesis songs playing as significant of a role in their early music loving days as did Wire and The Kinks.
They've chosen to let the tales of these tiny glimpses of evil - that dwell outside of us and then decide to accept the rolled out red carpeting as an invitation to come on in and make themselves comfortable - run relatively amok, crashing into each other along with the comforting refreshment of the salve of prevailing strength. The problems and the collisions are just the supporting actors in the American Princes songs. They hold out hope that the other people that make for interesting twists and turns in the lives of everyone will play fair and hug it out before anything rages too violently. There are still going to be fender-benders and some chipped teeth. There's no helping that.
American Princes Official Site