If you combine youthful vigor with a respect for '60s soul, a tie-dyed tee, and frenetic, tireless energy, you're apt to get Detroit's Prussia. Dear Emily, Best Wishes, Molly, the band's first full-length release, comes after a year filled with well-attended gigs and an earned distinction as one hell of a frantic and unpredictable live band. That kind of presence can be great onstage but occasionally leads to studio cacophony. A less disciplined band would've fallen prey to such trappings, but Prussia focuses its energy into a highly listenable and sonically adventurous record. The production here includes elements of Lee "Scratch" Perry, Phil Spector and classic Elephant 6, with the musical styles ranging from funk to calypso/reggae to orchestral pop-ish punk. These aren't the kind of eclectic sounds you might expect a bunch of kids in their early 20s to play with any real authority, and yet these 10 songs stand as stark evidence that they have indeed become masters of the various forms.
God and heartbreak are themes on Dear Emily, but not in a creepy evangelical way for the former, nor an emo-sadness wallow for the latter. Rather, Ryan Spencer and the rest of the Prussia boys seem more inclined to view religion and heartbreak as two of life's many paths that, despite the danger and unknowing, need to be explored as part of a well-rounded life. These paths are viewed as no more or no less important necessarily than the one that leaves you gobbling down a handful of peyote on an endless stretch of desert highway with a group of friends at 3 a.m. Whether that's the underlying message of Molly's letter to Emily is anybody's guess. But if Prussia is the messenger, let's hope neither snow nor rain keeps these musical couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.