Grooms have encapsulated the emotion and anguish of the teenage years with their sophomore release, Prom. The Brooklyn-based noise rock group uses their distortion and fuzz to match the highs and lows of growing up. Turning to lead vocalist/guitarist Travis Johnson’s own hellish experience at prom, the album’s moody undercurrent is a suited match. Grooms explore the idea of growing into adulthood, and Prom itself stands as a sign of the band’s progression.
Certainly there’s no shortage of noise rock bands currently releasing material. With a previously released full-length, Grooms have a chance to gain new fans and try out their promised, more melodious sound. Title track “Prom” is filled with teenage nostalgia, combining Sonic Youth-esque guitar licks dripping in reverb and steady, messy bass. Lyrics are poetic and filled with teenage sentiment, like “17 is the whole world/in my room, The Smiths and girls.” Lead track “Tiger Trees” sees Grooms toy with glitches that wane in and out amongst clamorous cymbal crashes culminating in a brash ending of enormous guitar.
Prom is tragic in that it provides a sense of overwhelming emotion. When lyrics are discernible amongst the commotion of guitars, the deepest sadness can be felt. The ambient “Skating with Girl” is filled with instrumentals as eerie as the lyrics, painting a frigid picture of admiring an ice skater from afar. When lyrics do remain buried under instrumentals, Grooms rely on their textured and layered sound to convey the character of Prom.
A running time of around 30 minutes leaves Grooms barely reaching the height of their potential. With an abrupt ending, only through repeated listens does Prom really sink in. The majority of a record being submerged in noise certainly won’t please everyone, but Prom stands as a solid second release from a group that certainly has a lot of growing left to do.