Among the excellent roster at Topshelf Records, Prawn is probably one of my favorites. I can think of fewer bands in this scene with a sound this carefully constructed. I’ve loved “Kingfisher,” their 2014 release, very much, it’s perfect for late-night listening in the background to reading or writing or whatever, but it’s worth study of its own and it is excellent in headphones.

There’s a lightness that shimmers before it swallows you whole, a post-rock awesomeness matched with poetic, honest lyrics from the veins of emo realism. I love the sheer beauty they create, with tasteful notes and dancing little melodies in assertive tracks and softer takes. The album sounds as introspective as its themes reflect, themes of wrestling with the self and others. This track is from the softer side, a break in the album’s guitar-fueled action and builds, but I love the way it loops, the way it grabs onto an early hook and weaves it through heartfelt confessions of starting fresh.

I love the way they use silence, like in this song (that break before the third verse, so suspended), a momentary pause before threading a melody through a new verse from a dark place, but using silence is a tool they wield well consistently. Percussive and patient, Prawn songs have beginnings and middles and ends that are hard to define on first listen but most definitely there. I think this is part of what makes them so well-crafted, there is a completeness, up until the very last ringing chord in the final moments of the song.

Something about songs this stunning and strong and delicate make me feel clear, make me feel full of optimism. As borderline depressing as their lyrics are in standalone form, taken musically, there’s something very inspiring about them, there’s something very wide-eyed and awake, that moment of lightening in your mind that strikes you blind from whatever little manic chaos makes you tired and anxious, and on some level these are my favorite kind of songs, the kind that manage to still you into thinking clear again.

“Cold smoke in our lungs and footprints in tall grass.
We’re old souls in new skin, dragged in from the cold.
Fresh tracks trace past our old ugly bitter ways.
You finally found all the courage you needed to say.

We’re old souls in new skin,
but far from the place you’d thought we’d begin,

the place that you’d thought I’d give in.
We’re old souls in new skin,
but far from the end, just waiting, waiting to begin.
 

You can rearrange me now.
Put my feet back on the ground,
put the blood back in my veins.

I saw your scared stare sinking into me,
but I was bound by weights so I could not tread in a rising sea.
We’re desperate now with our latent fears rising from the wake.
You carry me over. You carry me through.”
 

~Old Souls
Prawn, Kingfisher