Princeton: Remembrance of Things to Come


On their sophomore release, Remembrance of Things to Come, Princeton delivers a sound reminiscent of the lilting, trendy and pleasantly digestible tunes that might accompany a Honda commercial. These are songs that evoke warmth and intrigue long before the entrance of any vocals, exciting the listener to tune in with heightened anticipation. While they certainly draw comparisons to contemporaries such as Phoenix, Kings of Convenience and Vampire Weekend, there’s something delightfully refreshing about Princeton’s approach to synth-inspired surfer pop.

Executing a sophomore album can often pose a similar dilemma to that of a film sequel: how does one capture the freshness and integrity of the original while still pushing the envelope? Thankfully, Princeton focuses on their strong understanding of melody, fleshing out the songs with thoughtful synth/keyboard and string arrangements. This is an album full of audible bloom; combining both a palpable sense of potential and anticipation. There’s an ease about their instrumentation, vocals and laid-back style that reveals their Southern California roots, but twin brothers Jesse and Matt Kivel also bring an on-point vocal delivery that is backed by sophisticated orchestration built on an audibly minimalist structure and flow. They’re particularly skilled at weaving a melody (and its ensuing harmonies) together without overproduction or heavy-handed lyrics.

The latter half of the album keeps a pretty consistent pace with its beginning, offering poppy, synth-sprinkled tunes like “To The Alps” and “Oklahoma,” while mixing stringed instruments where you least expect them (courtesy of LA’s New Music Ensemble). Just as the opening title track draws one’s attention, the album’s closer “Louise” feels like a fitting farewell. With its rich melody and compelling lyrics, it registers as an ideal closer to the record, with the same cinematic flourish as a film’s credit roll.

  Though the album has a solid progression of sound and lyric, it often straddles the line of “soundtrack” rather than “album” somewhat uncomfortably, which may be due to Princeton’s ambitious yet albeit vivid instrumentation. A brilliantly interwoven similarity ties the album together with a daydreamy feel that dips but never bores. While this can keep one’s interest, It can be a disconcerting aspect as well.  Allowing the mind to wander and contemplate hitting “next” definitely happens around halfway through, though it’s wise to stay tuned in. This is an album worth playing in its entirety. A significant contribution to the broadening genre of LA indie-pop, Princeton’s Remembrance of Things to Come leaves the listener anxious to hear where these four musicians are headed as they develop a consistent, rich and intriguing sound.

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