Priory is indie band zeitgeist. They’re a combination of equal parts Portland (where they’re based) and Brooklyn scenes, with a dose of sleepy Swedish dream pop. But I think this band is more on the cutting edge for their editorial tone. The songs on their self-titled debut are far more joyous than the jaded, slightly aloof tone that indie bands cultivate or simply wind up having because of all the layered vocal effects.
Instead, Priory’s lyrics are honest and earnest. Remember how your mom was totally wrong when she said that being yourself is the coolest kind of cool there is? Well, Priory actually exposes their emotions in their songs in a very vulnerable way. With hipster rock reaching its natural end, I hope and wish that bands like Priory (along with Foster the People, etc.) at the forefront — a rejection of the fairly macho ironic distance in order to actually provide something that resonates with its audiences, while also making cool-sounding future tunes. The music is simultaneously little and big.
The album opens with ”Worthy Dreams,” a lovely little dive into the world of the album. Its hypnotic wall of synths leads, surprisingly naturally into ”Kings of Troy.” It’s at first a gentle country folk ballad, one of the most honest love ballads I’ve heard in a while, that ultimately becomes a modern rock song with soaring vocal harmonies. It’s gorgeous and unabashedly so. Another highlight is the initially chilly ”Devil vs. Heater,” in which the protagonist (played here by vocalist Brandon Johnson) tries to fight off depression and sadness (the devil) by talking himself up (the heater) after the loss of a girlfriend. And, amazingly, it works. The song completely changes as the hero realizes he’s better off, getting all jaunty and actually making the room a little warmer. The album closes out with a backwards version of ”Worthy Dreams.” Yes, a simple, time-honored trick. But with that, and songs about love and loss of love, Priory looks to want to make a return to the kind of honest, personal music that’s not real prevalent right now. Songs about love are relatable; a backwards song is a nice bookend that makes Priory fell like a cohesive package.