princeton cocoon of love
    • THURSDAY, OCTOBER 01, 2009

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    It turns out Princeton isn't that hard to get into. Like their Bloomsbury EP before it, Cocoon Of Love is pure west-coast-pop. The difference between the two recordings appears to be maturity; Cocoon contains a multitude of shimmery songs that grab a bit more firmly than their EP predescesors. Here Princeton branches out to explore new pop territory, and it mostly suits them. And the lyrics remain mostly accessible, the subject matter quaint and agreeable, and the melodies bubbly.

    Although dripping with Cali-pop glee, the tracks occasionally adapt disco-ish tones, like the use of horns and strings, or a synth-clap as a snare (as in "Shout Out," a choice song). Also the pop occasionally morphs into alternative Pains Of Being Pure At Heart-ish shoegaze (as in "Worried Head"). The subtle versatility is a good thing, it allows what has traditionally been a stale, overdone, Jason-Schwartzmaned-out genre to breathe and gather momentum. There is still a definite use of marimba (or maybe imitative synth pads), but it isn't like "oh marimba! how tropical! tropical is fun! let us use it for every song!" (I can't stand this). It happens early on, so I was worried "Show Some Love, When Your Man Gets Home" would have a long title AND too much marimba, but I was very wrong (about the marimba). It actually develops quite nicely, and morphs from a down-tempo head-bobber to a jumpy, Rooney-at-their-best joyride. They had me at the "la" part, which was just the perfect amount of joy and riding. There is something to be said for balance.

    The frequent use of drum machines—despite presumably having access to a full drum kit and a drummer—is a nice touch. It gives some of the tracks a more intimate feeling than big budget tricks, although a well-produced drum machine tie-in is arguably a big budget trick, albeit a very good one (I was OK with being tricked). And instrumental bias aside, some of the shimmery compositions are really well written and arch nicely, regardless of production values. Lines like "I ravaged the wall with my pen" and "the old abandoned arcade" seem so commonplace, but somehow they sound like fresh images, and they really work well to strike an empathetic tone.

    While Cocoon Of Love takes a minute to get going, the pacing is really nice throughout. The shuffle of "Calypso Gold" is followed by the dreamy, yet quick footed "Korean War Memorial" (drum machines and harmonies abound) which is then followed by "Stunner Shades In Heaven," an ambient noise ballad. The tracks were put together in a way that feels natural; Princeton seems to know just when to get going or when to linger (even if it is mid-song).

    I look forward to Butterfly Of Love (note: it probably will not be called Butterfly Of Love). Cocoon isn't perfect, but it is more than enough to get excited about Princeton and their future as a band.-joe puglisi

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