It’s been two years since Antbrain’s last release, but their new EP Glorious Prosperous was worth the wait. The new record fits comfortably within the group’s power pop discography, and while it may not rewrite the genre, it’s proof that the band isn’t running out of ideas. The band casually released the record in late September, a move representative of the offhand nature of Antbrain. This is a group more concerned with hooks and harmonies than fanfare or self-promotion.
Guitarist Jiyoung Lee and bassist Dave Bonawits formed Antbrain in 2008, but there is a youthfulness behind each shimmery chord on Glorious Prosperous that doesn’t feel forced or fake. Lee and Bonawits alternate on vocals, but they always sound more exuberant than strident, even while shouting above the fuzz. Previously, the band has described themselves as “slop pop” and there’s plenty of crunchy garage riffs on the EP to back up that claim, but this is still an intricate record that goes beyond three-chord jam sessions.
To say Antbrain has mellowed since 2014’s Full Moon would be an overstatement, but there’s a polished feel to this EP which is new for the band. The softer edges expose more intimate songwriting, especially on “Stranger.” The track, which describes the loss of a relationship, tempers inevitability with gentleness and realism with a sophistication. This balance is a reminder that Antbrain may write their music with the hearts of teenagers, but the minds of well-weathered musicians.
All in all, Glorious Prosperous is more delightful than challenging, but within the band’s bubblegum bounce house energy, there is a joyful intimacy which keeps the seven-track adventure from getting too syrupy.
Antbrain performs tonight at WonderRoot in support of The Pellys and PJ Baby. Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission is $5. All ages.