Priest @ The Riot Room
Equal parts Passion Pit and Still Corners, Orlando duo, Priest finds a balance between lush sonic textures and danceable pop. The band’s songs fill a space like the best examples of dreampop while keeping a quick shimmering at their core. Tomorrow, Priest will play Riot Room’s late show.
The band’s self-titled debut has a energy to it that is undeniable. But it comes off less than manic. Featuring dark swells of sound and Madeline Priest’s ubiquitous and crystalline voice, Priest buries its pop sensibilities under hazy atmospheres. Beginning with the song “The Game,” Priest displays not only its uncanny ability to create taut and building instrumental tracks, but also the band’s skill at layering harmonies. “The Game” simultaneously sits within the 80s themed neon-pop that has had a resurgence and an ethereal, baroque sensibility. The juxtaposition between these two styles draws listeners in immediately and holds them there.
From this initial track, the band shifts into a bassier, more dance forward aesthetic. The next few tracks have, at their center, classic snare and kick beats, which gives them their dance feel. Each song, while layering clearer lead guitar lines, builds itself from bit destructed synth melodies. Their sound comes off as something like DisasterPeace mixed with Woman’s Hour. Songs like “White Nights” have a syncopation in their grooves while songs like “Staring at the Walls” fit more squarely in a click track electronica aesthetic. Priest’s ability to switch between the two aesthetics gives the album a variegated feel without losing its coherence.
Perhaps one of the poppiest songs of the album, “Strong Hearts” shimmers at the center of Priest. Sounding like a more retro-versed Passion Pit, “Strong Hearts” mixes shrill synth leads with a thrumming guitar and swift drumbeat to create a driving and fun tone. Keeping the same distorted melodies as the songs that precede it and equally catchy vocal melodies as “The Game,” this song acts to mesh the band’s dueling sounds.
Priest, in its second half, moves in a similar way as its first half. Mixing ethereal tones with more rigid percussion, Priest has created an album that is as perfect for the summer as it is for those moments of fall that feel as fleeting as they do timeless. As powerful as their recorded material is, it also seems to translate well to the stage.
Priest is able to pack a little more bass into their songs live than recorded. But despite the added frequencies, Priest’s voice still comes through clearly to balance their sound. Riot Room’s late show should be one to catch. Priest’s catchy and smarter-than-average synth pop will definitely not disappoint any fan of finely crafted pop. The show starts at 11pm tomorrow and is $5.