Sam Prekop - ‘Who’s Your New Professor’
Bands are curious entities when you think about it. The dynamic between the people involved has a large role to play in what kind of sound evolves and songs emerge. You can tell when it’s all working in unison by the amount of pride a group takes in their work. Especially when the music is this great.
Sometimes there’s one person pulling the strings. Less often, everyone plays equally important roles and the composition process is entirely democratic.
Radiohead would claim to be in the latter category yet Thom Yorke has effectively made two solo albums on a par with anything the band have done and in a largely similar vein.
In Ireland, we have The Redneck Manifesto who collectively and individually have made outstanding music over two decades. In their case, the individual member’s solo efforts seem to chime better when their friends are involved in some way.
And so it is with Chicago stalwarts The Sea and Cake. Together, they have made at least three LPs that are certifiably great. Their individual efforts have been somewhat patchier, but in singer Sam Prekop’s case, his solo work tends to shine like diamonds.
Who’s Your New Professor, his sophomore LP from 2005, stands out. Production is by John McEntire and the chiming presence of Archer Prewitt’s guitar playing embellishes throughout. Prekop’s soulful croon hits the sweet spot every time on its ever-changing moods.
The easygoing sumptuous nature of some of the jams hint that he took his game up to fit the role of solo artist. There are so many exquisite instrumental gestures it feels anomalous to call it pop, yet that is most certainly what it is.
Pop in the sense that these jazz inflected melodies are sharp as a tack and seductive enough to make you immediately want to stick around for more. It’s easy to get hooked. Yet all the tiny gestures also render it oblique and haunting. There’s great beauty in the detail. It’s a shame music this good never makes it to the airwaves.
Your radio could badly do with pop this refined and classy.