As we’re slowly getting closer to the January 15th release of Endlessly, the sophomore EP release from Missouri-based new wave revivalists PRISMATICS, we have teamed up with the band’s vocalist Brooke Austen for a special commentary about the creative process behind the record, her thoughts on 2020, and the band’s special End Of The Year list of best songs released in 2020.
Recorded in each member’s apartment separately at the outset of COVID-19 lockdowns in March, Endlessly became an eerily prescient cross section of 2020 with Blondie-tinged odes to aimless driving after a period of indoor isolation (“Outside Looking”) and wondering if magic can exist in difficult times like on the EP’s dreamy second single, “Every Smiling Thing.”
Prismatics is a Missouri-based four-piece influenced by the new wave, dream pop, and post punk movements before them, but informed by harrowing realities of modern life around them. Earlier this year, vocalist/keyboardist Brooke Austen, guitarist/vocalist Josh Clark, bassist/vocalist Jo Bossi, and drummer Ben Stenberg were set to record the follow-up to their 2018 debut New Emotion when coronavirus took hold.
“Much of the songwriting process began shortly before the pandemic took place,” Austen recalls. “When the time came to record, we found ourselves miles away from each other and operating remotely.”
Relying on a self-described Frankenstein’s monster of recording setups, the band had no choice but to try their hand at recording separately from their homes, eventually forming the songs on this January’s Endlessly EP. Pulling from miscommunication in the social media age, the dichotomy of passive people turning into agitators online, and a longing to be authentically known, Endlessly is a modern answer for the urgent, yet accessible drive of new wave greats like Siouxsie and The Banshees, Blondie, and Echo and The Bunnymen.
Where its first single “Outside Looking” barreled out as an all-too-relevant post punk anthem for craving escapism after a period of isolation, “Every Smiling Thing” summarizes the charm of Endlessly as it tests the band’s ability at effortless dream pop while examining everyday magic amidst universally dire times.
“Every Smiling Thing grapples with ascribing supernatural meaning to both deeply healing and unexplained phenomena in life, as well as the seemingly mundane and even foolish,” Austen says. “What are the repercussions of seeing magic everywhere? What are the repercussions of never seeing magic at all? It’s about challenging both the reckless dreamer and the hardline logician.”
“𝐻𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝐼 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑜𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑐𝑢𝑠𝑝 𝑜𝑓 𝑎 𝑛𝑒𝑤 𝑑𝑒𝑐𝑎𝑑𝑒.” 𝐼 𝑤𝑟𝑜𝑡𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑜𝑠𝑒 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑑𝑠 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑔𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑡 𝑜𝑝𝑡𝑖𝑚𝑖𝑠𝑚 𝑖𝑛 𝑎 𝑗𝑜𝑢𝑟𝑛𝑎𝑙 𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑟𝑦 𝑜𝑛 𝑁𝑒𝑤 𝑌𝑒𝑎𝑟’𝑠 𝐸𝑣𝑒 𝑙𝑎𝑠𝑡 𝑦𝑒𝑎𝑟.
“At that time, the band felt a creative shift brewing.” – says Brooke. “Collectively, we had the sense that the stars were aligning to propel us forward, and we, like many other musicians, harnessed this energy and booked our 2020 tour route after planning studio time. Alas, as we all know now, plans changed. Rather than checking in to see how many people had bought tickets and RSVP’d to our shows, we were instead checking in on our favorite venues to make sure they were still in operation. Instead of gathering in our practice space to scheme and build a future together while standing face to face, we turned to weekly phone calls to check in on one another in isolation.”
“In spite of the challenges of this year, we were determined to make the best out of what we were given. We made new plans, we tried different things. We pieced together home studios, we recorded and dreamed remotely. Even though this year looked different than any of us thought it would, the band and I have walked away with an unexpected inner peace. We know we have each other’s backs. We know that nothing can stop us from doing our work. In fact, the work for next year has already begun, and an album’s worth of work at that. Ultimately, I prepare to move past 2020 feeling as I did when it began: Optimistic and with a drive to create. I believe many other artists feel and have felt the same way, and as a testament to the enduring artistic spirit, the band has compiled a non-exhaustive list of songs released during the Corona-era that we hope you enjoy as much as we did.” – Brooke
PRISMATICS 2020 SONG PICKS
Kate NV – Plans
A truly unique record that grabbed me the moment I heard it. The atmosphere created is so immersive and catchy, it doesn’t matter that I don’t speak Russian to get the lyrics. The melody and tune are stuck in my head for days after I hear this song. Room for the Moon is the album of the year for me, and I can’t say enough good things about this track. – Josh (also chosen by Jo)
Tame Impala – Is It True
“Is It True” is such a fun song. The bass is on point and it makes me want to move every time I hear it. – Jo
Róisín Murphy – Kingdom of Ends
As a fan of 90s weirdness, disco, and art-pop, I feel at home with this track. I can’t get enough of Róisín Murphy. – Brooke
The Strokes – Bad Decisions
“Bad Decisions” is a callback to the quintessential post-punk guitar sound wrapped around the unmistakable vocal style of Julian Casablancas. – Jo
tricot has been super busy this year. This is the lead single from their newest album (10) which is their second album of 2020. tricot is a Japanese J-Rock/Math Rock band, and both of their 2020 releases (10 and 真っ黒 [Makkuro]) are killer albums which I highly recommend. – Ben
Deftones – Ohms
Deftones put out one of the best albums of the year (Ohms) and I believe this track showed that Ohms was going to be a better release than their previous LP (Gore). It’s insane to think that these guys have been making great material for dozens of years when their peers from the nu-metal era quickly aged and died off. – Ben
Arista Fiera – Walden
Another example of music’s transcendence of language barriers. A great record from Spain with a lush, dream-pop atmosphere that constantly builds through propulsive verses into blooming choruses. – Josh
The Killers – Caution
If Lindsey Buckingham is there, I’m there. A hero who always inspires me and elevates any track he works on. It helps that I also like The Killers. A great anthemic pop-rock song with a great solo. What’s not to love? – Josh
Outside [Looking] is a bonafide anthem for escapism in the COVID age. – Spill Magazine
Outside Looking, a jangly post-punk track that’s turbo-charged by the otherworldly vocals of Brooke Austen. – Cool Hunting
Endlessly is progress and growth from New Emotion and an incredible achievement given the trying conditions under which it was produced. – OriginalRock.net
There are really zero holes in [New Emotion]. Recommended. – Divide and Conquer