Prinzhorn Dance School: Home Economics (DFA Records)

Concise third LP of spidery art rock from Brigtonian duo

Released Jun 9th, 2015 via DFA Records / By Norman Miller
Prinzhorn Dance School: Home Economics (DFA Records) This third album from Prinzhorn Dance School - Brighton-based duo Tobin Prinz (guitar, vocals) and Suzi Horn (bass, drums, vocals) - continues their art-rock exploration of stripped down intensity woven with melodic hooks, evolving from the arch-punkiness of their eponymous 2007 debut, and more polished hard-boiled minimalism of 2012's Clay Class.

Their debut featured a sprawling 16 tracks, while the follow-up cut things down to 11. And Home Economics pares things down even further on the length front – just 6 tracks spread over 23 minutes – though PDS have name-checked other 6-track meisterwerks like Orange Juice’s Texas Fever in interviews to let you know they think quality counts over quantity.

That principle is echoed by the sparse production, each element of bass, guitar, drum and vocal seeming precisely placed alongside bittersweet lyrics. The best moments see PDS cast themselves as a more melodic missing link between Magazine and New Order on tracks like the Reign, with its prowling bass and languid, dark poetic musings, and the equally fine Clean with its moody Pixies-ish bass licks and lovely guitar melody.

Haggle and Education grow on you too, their niggling percussion melded to repetitive jerky guitar like some cracked country blues played at 2/3 pace.

Lyrically, PDS veer from well-honed reflectiveness to the sort of cod angst on the disappointing Battlefield exemplified by lines like “Look at me predator” and “It's a battlefield in your heart”. The closer - gruff love song Let Me Go - is no great shakes musically either, but earns forgiveness for lines like “scratching at pieces of a love that won't rewind... and will not be deleted.”

There's a Marmite-y charm to PDS - after their debut album, one national paper dubbed them “the least commercially viable group ever signed to a major label”, while another put it in their “Best 120 Albums of All Time” list... At their best, though, PDS have a dark spindly beauty like Louise Bourgeois's giant spiders transformed into music.