Dig Baton Rouge

Album Review: Prom Date’s “Portraits”

By Pat Gunther

The debut studio album by New Orleans synthpop group Prom Date hit Bandcamp on August 5th to the delight of many fans. Similar in style and texture to their previous releases, Portraits seems to paint a vivid picture of just exactly what Prom Date has been up to since the release of their debut single “X My Heart” nearly a year ago.

The album titled lead track off of Portraits sounds exactly like what you’d imagine something from a band called Prom Date to create: a bass heavy, synth-dripping ballad with a touch of acoustic guitar setting the tone for a soft falsetto. The message, though rather cliché and a tad cheesy, aptly fits the title and feel of this album.

Though not necessarily typical out of a New Orleans band, Prom Date’s sound seems to be relatively hit or miss in the scheme of today’s popular musical preferences. Their tracks are often very dancy, and especially funky on “Good Morning, Boyfriend” but seem to lack the lyrical depth of many other acts around today. Depending on one’s musical taste though, this can be easily overlooked due to the infectious vibes that they offer up on their first full-length LP.

The single “X My Heart” makes an appearance, naturally, and is reminiscent of some of Daft Punk’s production, with some stellar singing interlaced throughout the track. Though not as shallow as “Good Morning, Boyfriend,” “X My Heart” is not their most thoughtful lyrical effort on the album.

All in all, Portraits is an excellent album to throw on in the background at any cookout or at a beach bar, but isn’t something I’d play on a contemplative drive at 3 a.m. Granted, this is probably not the aim of the NOLA quartet (at least I don’t see that being the case) but could have added a little more substance to a pretty poppy and very 80s feeling LP that’ll evoke nostalgic feelings for any older thirty something craving a taste of their youth.

In the scheme of 2014 dance music, however, Prom Date’s sound feels a bit antiquated at times, even with flashes of really enjoyable and progressive beats and head-bob inducing rhythms. Tracks such as “Walking Dead” really resonate with me lyrically and melodically, as the group converges for a stellar track incorporating hip-hop inspired drum and bass patterns and really interesting laser synths.

Towards the end of the record, Prom Date really breaks out their good stuff that would fit in perfectly in any 80s movie montage as far as texture and sound is concerned. The tracks “Red Light” and “Too Real” should be on any 80s night playlist around the Baton Rouge bar scene, and would surely be a big hit on the dance floors around the Red Stick.

Prom Date will have the opportunity to showcase these dance inducing tunes in the coming weeks with performances at local favorite Kerry Beary’s Atomic Pop Shop and the Spanish Moon in Baton Rouge before hitting Gasa Gasa in the Big Easy. The performances are sure to be loads of fun for fans of all ages and will hopefully serve them the chance to disseminate their new album that they’ve clearly worked very hard on. Though not exactly my preferred style of music at the moment, Portraits is a cohesive, infectious LP that can definitely be a fun listen. If Prom Date digs deeper lyrically and emotionally on their next album, they could truly make something for everyone.

Favorite Tracks: “Walking Dead,” “Good Morning Boyfriend”

Least Favorite Tracks: “Portraits,” “By My Side,” “Mood Swings,” “Too Real” 

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