When it comes to putting a label on their particular brand of indie rock, Brooklyn-based Grooms are mystifyingly indescribable. Not because of how experimental they are, but because of how many jumps back and forth within the general realm of “rock” their music encompasses. On Prom, there are spastic Pavement-esque asides along with some more intricate, windy pop influences from Cursive and Modest Mouse. Mix that in with a little Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth, and you have a survey of the past 30 years of important indie music.
This inability to quite grasp the tone of the record is most jarring because of the rapidly moving changes between high energy and low energy songs. Grooms can go from a rather monotone tune like “Expression Of” to a screeching-guitars-accented song like “Imagining the Bodies,” and then back again with “Skating With The Girl.” Only once are the vocal duties combined: “Sharing” showcases a duet between bassist Emily Ambruso and guitarist Travis Johnson.
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Despite being a bit inconsistent with energy levels, the bands holds rather steady when it comes to lyrical content. Grooms are quite unique in that they walk a funny line between being teenagers and seeming mature well beyond their years. Thus, the album title of Prom and the resulting title track are particularly well-played; “Our brains are young” and “I want to be friends with you” are lyrics that contain an interesting mix of self-reflection and ultimate inexperience. My pick for best song is “Into The Arms,” a nice blending of low energy haziness mixed with pulsing bursts of guitar-infused adrenaline.
Overall, the record is a mixed bag. While the blend of energies makes for an exciting ride, there are a few songs which just fall flat or fail to scratch the surface (see “Aisha”). Prom is certainly not an initial impressions album that grabs you upon first listen. It’s a little bit hard to wrap your brain around everything going on, but that is what makes it fun. Assuming that the band’s point is that modern music does not need a genre or comparison to make it worthwhile, they have very much proved their thesis.