Night-People Records – December 14th, 2013
I must confess, it’s taken the better part of the year for me to get used to seeing Idiot Glee as a foursome, rather than just James Friley with the multi-keyboard/drum-machine/loop-pedal setup that he started out with. It’s grown on me, though – the band has done an excellent job of fleshing out his tunes, and some of the new stuff they’ve come up with since forming has been fantastic. That said, to receive a notification in my mailbox that a new album, titled The Prairie, had been released was a big surprise, and a good one at that. The album is divided into three major sections, each with three songs a piece – “The Prairie,” “Position,” and three already known Idiot Glee songs, reworked on solo piano. The first portion starts out with piano and electronic bass before adding textures of synth – the entirety of “The Prairie” (parts one through three,) comes in at over twenty-two minutes, but I assure you it’s a beautiful listen the whole way through. “Position” and its three parts is about half the length of the first portion, but is an equally beautiful and mesmerizing piece built with an acoustic guitar at its very base. Sprinkled in are more immediate rhythm from the bass and synthesizers, but it remains a meditative companion to the first third of the album. The final chunk of the album is perhaps the most interesting to Idiot Glee fans – the last three songs (“Swimming Pool,” “Trouble at the Dancehall,” and “Little Berlin”) are live takes of James and a piano, without further accompaniment. They all translate remarkably well to the stripped down sound, and are played with such nuance as to give them their own identity outside of their original iterations. For an album that was released without much notice or hype, The Prairie is an excellent addition to Idiot Glee’s discography (or tape-ography,) and is absolutely worth a listen.
Ben Southworth – January 16th, 2014 – Hagermann and Maxwell