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An Introspective Look From Prize Horse’s Debut Album ‘Under Sound’

2024 has been off to a big start with releases from larger bands such as Green Day, Neck Deep, and Alkaline Trio. Yet there is one release that has captivated me more than those and that is Prize Horse’s Under Sound.

Prize Horse is an alternative rock band from Minneapolis, Minnesota. They have been actively releasing music since 2021 with their debut single “3 Tiles.” This would be followed up in 2022 with a six EP titled Welder, which featured “3 Tiles” on it. It came out to positive reception as the band continued to build traction. The group would start releasing music again in October of 2023 with the first single off of Under Sound, “Your Time.” The song would be a large continuation of what was heard on Welder with fuzzy and spacey alternative rock with this song talking about having a lack of motivation and the mindset that comes with it. Two more singles would come with “Further From My Start” and “Know Better.” Finally, Under Sound released last week on February 16.

Under Sound is a ten track album that was released under New Morality Zine. It is a dreary album in the best way possible. The lyrics are deep and reflective, often taking things from a more melancholic standpoint. The music matches the lyrics and adds on as a great backdrop and complement the lyrics being put in the forefront.

The album opens with “Dark Options,” a five minute entranceway into the band’s landscape. Light guitars followed by vocals from Jake Beitel painting pictures with words like “I felt all my fears going; When I saw that sign go up; Please let me up on the roof; I swear I’ll stay so still”. Interestingly, an electronic drum set comes in but where this could be a negative to some, this builds anticipation for the track to really kick in. When it does, the atmosphere grows thanks to the help of bassist Olivia Johnson and drummer Jon Brenner. The layering of instrumentation keeps the ongoing buildup throughout the entire track to where it does come to a head towards the end just for the band to bring it back down. To where it transitions over to “Your Time” very smoothly.

The album opens with “Dark Options,” a five minute entranceway into the band’s landscape. Light guitars followed by vocals from Jake Beitel painting pictures with words like “I felt all my fears going; When I saw that sign go up; Please let me up on the roof; I swear I’ll stay so still”. Interestingly, an electronic drum set comes in but where this could be a negative to some, this builds anticipation for the track to really kick in. When it does, the atmosphere grows thanks to the help of bassist Olivia Johnson and drummer Jon Brenner. The layering of instrumentation keeps the ongoing buildup throughout the entire track to where it does come to a head towards the end just for the band to bring it back down. To where it transitions over to “Your Time” very smoothly.

Going on in the record you have “Further From My Start” which begins with pounding drums and bass that drive the track the entire time even if, in drums case, pull back a little bit to eventually become pounding once again. What really hits with this song is the end soundscape of blending of almost screeching guitars, drums that are moving consistently, and a steady bassline that pounds on in the back. Lyrically the track is used to reflect on the past but be grateful that you are where you are now. It involves a trip down memory lane and reflecting on where one was at the point in the past. Just for them to turn around saying that it may have shaped you to who you are now, it’s where it belongs. In the past.

“Reload” is a track that off of first listen gave me throwbacks to bands like Deftones and Alice in Chains. The guitar and bass play heavy with each other on this and when the guitar pulls back it has an almost haunting sound in the background thanks to the effects and choice of notes. The mixing on the percussion is especially a highlight as it gives spotlight to the fill usage from Brenner. The song picks up pace towards the end while Beitel lets out “I don’t feel like myself” driving the song to an end that can come off inconclusive but it is open ended purposefully as like a lot of tracks off this record it delves into reflection of the past.

My favorite drum track comes two songs after, with the track “Stone.” Brenner gets a huge chance to shine here and in no pun intended does not miss a beat. The hecticness of the drums compliments the song’s theme and is the biggest proponent to push it forward. Beitel and Johnson drive the rest of the song’s tone with a great mix of heavy bass and guitar that turn light at multiple points to give the listener a pause while Beitel preaches “Remember what it feels like To go down there by yourself”. The big theme of this song is isolation and the thoughts of will people care if something happens. Thematically this is my favorite track as each instrument, lyric, and tone just is put together perfectly by the group. Nothing is out of place and everything just goes together like the most beautifully tragic puzzle you’ve ever built.

The album closes with the very somber track “Awake For It.” While yes, it is not uncommon for bands to end records with a slower track or even a more somber track, this album ending the way it does puts the perfect pin in it. Everything is pulled back pretty extensively more so than other moments on the record. The drums hold a consistent beat that is complemented by the bass while the guitar is plucked ever so lightly on the track. Beitel’s vocals are the most prominent thing on this track which at times portray a friend venting out to another or just someone talking to themselves in the mirror after a big moment goes down. While it isn’t for everyone the melancholic lyrics “Waiting for my life to align; I’ll waste no time; Looking for my places to hide” offer a sense of solace for those who have felt this way. Like what was said about “Stone,” “Awake For It” is beautiful in the saddest way. Fantastic way to encapsulate the record as an entity.

Overall, Under Sound just feels like a record that came out at the right moment. The feelings of reflection can be relatable for anyone and while the consistent melancholy in the lyrics might be a turn off for some, there is hope throughout and can even create reflection in oneself. Accompanied by amazing auras of each musician blending together in a fine work of chemistry, there is nothing bad to say about this record. For being a debut LP, Prize Horse shows that they have things on lock instrumentally, thematically, and tonally. Can’t wait for the next release but until then if you would like to learn more, you can check out the band’s Bandcamp!

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