Prefab Sprout Springs Back
August 1, 2013 2:36 PM   Subscribe

Prefab Sprout is releasing a new album, Crimson / Red, on October 7.

Prefab Sprout is best known for its 1985 album Steve McQueen (titled Two Wheels Good in the United States), a critically acclaimed shimmering jazz-pop masterpiece produced by Thomas Dolby (and reissued in 2007 with eight new acoustic versions of its original songs).

The band's output slowed in the 1990s and 2000s, partly because of singer/songwriter Paddy McAloon’s elusive-genius perfectionism, partly because of issues with McAloon’s eyesight and hearing. The 2009 album Let’s Change the World With Music was initially heralded as The Big Comeback, but turned out to be built on demos recorded in the early 1990s.

Then, on June 8, what appeared to be an entirely new Prefab Sprout album was discovered on Soundcloud. The mysterious circumstances surrounding the album's appearance (and its subsequent disappearance) had many fans and critics wondering if they'd been duped by a masterful fake. Or, perhaps worse, taunted with a set of authentic songs never intended for official release.

Now concerned fans and critics have their answer; Crimson / Red is the real deal. You can preview the entire album (for the moment, at least) here.
posted by bassomatic (17 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
This is wonderful news.
posted by davebush at 2:46 PM on August 1, 2013

"Words are trains
For moving past
What really has no name."
posted by El Brendano at 2:58 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Listened to the first three tracks and they're typically excellent. I played "Appetite" a bunch back in my college DJ days and picked up an import copy of Steve McQueen (because I preferred that to the Animal Farm inspired American title) as a result. Jordan: The Comeback is an equally excellent album. New work from McAloon is cause for celebration.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:09 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hooray! I had something from Steve McQueen running through my head today, and realised that they actually sounded nothing like anything that had come before - at the time they represented some kind of classicism, and were the reason I started listening to Steely Dan and Joni Mitchell. But actually they were something new.

And, whenever his health allowed, he apparently kept on writing. There are rumoured to be many hours of demos, including a concept album about Michael Jackson.

I'd also recommend his mysterious and beautiful album I Trawl the Megahertz if you can find it.
posted by Grangousier at 3:14 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Crazy. I was just now listening to Steve McQueen. First time in a long time, too.
posted by NoMich at 3:21 PM on August 1, 2013

There's few albums from my college days I actively keep a copy of. But Steve McQueen is one of them, and this makes me very happy.
posted by mephron at 3:35 PM on August 1, 2013

I do have to say this. Prefab Sprout is truly one of the worst band names ever. It put me off even listening to the Steve McQueen for months ... until I finally got my arm twisted.
posted by philip-random at 3:36 PM on August 1, 2013

Appetite was huge in Manila in the '80s, clustered as it was with the new wave boom. Really enjoyed Swoon too - I used to pore over the lyrics printed on the gatefold LP.

I do have to say this. Prefab Sprout is truly one of the worst band names ever.

Still better than Spandau Ballet, no? (I actually have a soft spot for SB as an eighties child...)

My best friend in middle school dumped on Prefab Sprout all the time because of the name; he also thought Appetite was a crap title too. Dear Q - wherever you are, I hope you came around to this amazing song/album.
posted by shortfuse at 3:44 PM on August 1, 2013

I am the only person I know who owned a prefab sprout album.
posted by srboisvert at 4:36 PM on August 1, 2013

I bonded with a young teacher in middle school when she made a Prefab Sprout reference in our English Literature class. Thomas Dolby brought me to them; their lineage along the gorgeous, studio-perfectionist Blue Nile / Talk Talk axis kept me around.

I just have to say:

1. PopMatters, can't you even spell McAloon correctly? For pete's sake.
2. He looks amazing now. A proper English eccentric. I love it.
posted by mykescipark at 4:41 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Almond cookie!
posted by asok at 5:00 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had to loathe Prefab Sprout as a sullen little 19-year-old CD store clerk, but still knew Steve McQueen off by heart.
posted by scruss at 5:00 PM on August 1, 2013

I'm so glad (and will be glad) to hear this.

Wouldn't it be great if McAloon wrote a proper West End/Broadway musical?
posted by droplet at 5:33 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hot dog. Jumping frog. Albuquerque.

that is all
posted by hot_monster at 5:46 PM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

This is the best possible news I could have heard at the end of a shitty day.
posted by unSane at 7:44 PM on August 1, 2013

srboisvert: "I am the only person I know who owned a prefab sprout album"

I was certainly the only person I knew back in the 80s in Tennessee who had one. It's such a strange, idiosyncratic sound.

This is a welcome surprise.
posted by Red Loop at 3:24 AM on August 2, 2013

Wouldn't it be great if McAloon wrote a proper West End/Broadway musical?
posted by droplet at 1:33 AM on August 2 [+] [!]

Oh man, I think about this every time I listen to I Trawl the Megahertz (his solo album from 2003). It's such an odd sui generis record, that mixes found audio, spoken word, and gorgeous gloopy Gershwinesque orchestration. The first track is a 20 minute character collage with no real narrative, and it only meanders more from there.

Until about two thirds in, where you get 49, maybe the best McAloon composition in decades. It's inspired by the late-night radio he listened to while losing his sight, and really makes me want to see him do something for the stage.
posted by rollick at 4:09 AM on August 2, 2013

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