A modern American rock band with a polished, radio-friendly sound, PREZENS were founded in 1995 by Marc DiBerardino and Mike Drew, and ever since then they have been carving up the US soundscape. From basement jam sessions and backyard barbecues to a run on the main stage, PREZENS line-up was solidified in 1997 with the additions of drummer Jason Ranney and bass legend Justin Wade, creating a versatile four-piece that were ready to take on the contemporary rock scene.
After touring extensively throughout the tri-state area and performing at legendary venues such as The Bitter End, CBGB’s, Cafe A-Go-Go, Toad's Place, and Tuxedo Junction, to name just a few, the band went on to open for a medley of iconic bands and earn appearances on WPLR, Radio 104.1, and even performing for President Bill Clinton in Hartford. With a massive list of accomplishments under their belt, it was something of a surprise when the writing duo of Drew and DiBerardino decided to take a twenty-year hiatus.
Two long decades later and the duo have finally returned to the fold, teaming up with a crew of legendary hired guns to create a new album of songs that reflect the duo’s own travels through life's seasons. Aptly titled ’20 Years Later’, the new album opens onto a surprisingly rustic series of acoustic chords that are matched by faultless vocals that convey a deft, almost doleful sound. Empowered by a string of meteoric choruses, opening cut ‘Worry About You’ sets the stage for the album, introducing a wistful perspective and calculated rock sound that the band stick close to for the remaining eleven tracks.
Tracks like ‘Breakdown’, ‘Miss My Chance’, and ‘The Pessimist’ push the familiar yearning feeling to the fore, mixing it with a melodic, soft rock sound that does it’s best to excite and tug at the heartstrings, while lingering melodies like that of ‘The Days’ offer yet more melancholic ambles through soft acoustic guitar and unfolding vocals. It’s all impressively done and solidly built, but it’s slow, emotive charm only carries so far.
Lead single ‘Enough’ offers a highlight in a more textured, country sound that cuts through the cascade of wistful romanticism in a merciful blow that you wish was just a little more defined. Like all the tracks on the album, you can’t fault the craftsmanship or technical skill involved, you just wish it had more to say than the same old faux-ballad sounds.
Another highlight of the album, ‘Never Say Goodbye’ is cut from the same cloth as it’s somewhat cloying brothers and sisters, but it holds firm to a more direct rock sound, bringing some grit and sonic brilliance to the proceedings with choruses that rally around some simply superb vocals and a deft, soaring interplay between the guitar and drums.
It’s a tough album to review, predominantly because ’20 Years Later’ is so technically sound that you desperately want to engage with it, but just can’t quite get there. Emotionally, it’s a draining and predictable release that fails to excite, offering only sparring glimpses into a beating rock heart. Despite this, there is enough within the album to make it a rewarding listen, and while you might sometimes hesitate when moving forward into the next track, there is enough melodic and technical prowess to keep you pushing forward.
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