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For me, one of music’s most incredible qualities is its ability to act as a record (pun intended) of a single moment in a band or artist’s life. Wherever they are, whoever they are, whatever is going on in the world at the time, it goes into the album. It gets woven into the songs and becomes a testament to a single point in time. On Status/Post, the fourth album from the dark-pop trio Pree, that moment is one of destruction, upheaval, and dramatic change.
“We’re kind of documenting the destruction of something, you know?” says drummer Ben Usie. “Even though May [Tabol] is writing this lyrical journey and this descriptive thing, we all knew and could tap into that same emotion because we had all experienced a lot of that life that was dying.”
The band largely points to 2016 here—not just the political aspect of it, but the fact that D.C.’s music community changed a great deal that year. “A lot of people left,” says bass player Ben Schurr. This includes Tabol, who currently resides in Atlanta, and Usie, who lives in New Orleans. “A lot of things got destroyed. House shows basically ceased to be because of the whole alt-right shit.”
The resulting album is still very much a Pree record—it’s nearly impossible to misidentify Tabol’s warbling vocals and the band’s signature sunny sound (even if, as Tabol points out, those moments are few and far between on this album). But there are significant changes changes from previous records. For one, Schurr says the album consciously attempts to deconstruct the familiar.
“I can always look back and listen to something that we’ve done and it’s always very like ‘that’s distinctly this band,’” he says. “So I think that’s what the record does more so than anything else—it deconstructs the familiar. It recognizes the familiar and then plays with the idea of deconstructing it.”
Nowhere on the album is this more apparent than in the fourth track, “Holly.” At over seven minutes, it’s significantly longer than most other Pree songs. Just after the four-minute mark of the song, the upbeat keys, bass, and vocals fade away, replaced by a drum beat similar to the rumbles of an oncoming thunderstorm and synths resembling a funeral dirge. Soon thereafter, the drums shift and additional synths are layered in, creating a driving industrial sound more reminiscent of a Br’er track than anything Pree has previously done. What’s truly striking here is the fact that this is no momentary lapse into darkness—this whole passage takes up over two minutes of the track’s run time. When the chorus eventually returns, Schurr’s bass is cloaked in a layer of distortion and Usie’s drum fills become more complex and aggressive, reflecting the darkness the song has just moved through; the same, but different.
In a lot of ways, the album’s title very much represents what the album is: an update, a post, a record of a moment in time.
“There’s so much negative stuff that’s happened since 2016,” Tabol says. “I think just being able to say that we stood through that and created this piece of art. I think it’s a testament to what you can accomplish in spite of everything that’s stacked against you. To laugh at all that and to say that this is something that we’ve created, even if everything means nothing. To hell with it, create.”
Pree will perform on Friday, April 26 at Dwell DC.