Prism Tats – Creep Out/Freak Out (2016)

I like my punk like I like my steak, raw, with a little gristle.

I’m a big fan of surprises, ask my friends. I’m more than happy knowing as little as possible when it comes to parties, events, films etc, it always gives me something to get excited about. It’s rare I come across something I know next to nothing about and end up liking it. The most recent example of this, I believe, was when I found myself in a deep melancholic trance while listening to Beach Houses’ incredible Teen Dream album. A similar feeling arrived when I discovered Girl Talk’s own brand of crazy postmodern mash-up.

I’ve had this feeling again, but not to that extreme, while listening to ‘Creep Out / Freak Out’ by Prism Tats.

Prism Tats’ Garett van der Spek grew up in Durban, South Africa, a city that isn’t known for its punk music, but we shouldn’t be surprised, everything is as accessible there as it is here. If the Springsteen ‘High Hopes in South Africa’ documentary taught me anything, it was that South Africa is quite diverse with the music it likes, and rock is no exception.

Mixing the rawness of the Japandroids/Slaves with distinct indie influences, Prism Tats achieves a unique mix of moody melody and disharmony. The juxtaposition works, creating a kind of sweet/sour effect. The guitar playing is punk at it’s finest, with a mixture of power chords, small changes in melody, metronomic rhythm and wild solos intertwining with the sharp and staccato verses. These eventually give way to a spectral vocal chorus of “la la la’s”, which morph into a “I’m gonna creep you out/I’m gonna freak you out” refrain, having the desired effect. The falsetto breaks up the propulsive guitar and maybe doesn’t ‘freak’ you out, but certainly grabs your attention.

The complementing video is suitably quirky, featuring a young woman seeking to ‘creep out’ and ‘freak out’ a meticulously put together list of targets. She then proceeds to do so in a variety of gross, weird and entertaining ways.

It’s a short sharp burst of spectral energy and I enjoyed it greatly, though I’d be hard pressed to see it working over the course of a whole album. This isn’t the Ramones after all. We shall have to wait and see.

Enjoy the steak while you can.

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