Skylar Spence has concocted a fusion of 70s through 2000s pop with his 2015 debut LP “Prom King.” Whimsical synths and soundboards truly make this album defy time. From side A to B Spence takes you through different eras of pop. One moment it’s prom night in ‘72, then a disco club in ‘81. Spence displays howt these genres can be enjoyed in the modern era with a playful twist.
Ryan DeRobertis, also known as his stage name Skylar Spence(formerly Saint Pepsi), made a big name for himself in a short time. Saint Pepsi, his first project, began in 2012 and left a major impact on the “vaporwave” genre. This genre of music tends to be odd and has an entire aesthetic wrapped around 70s/80s surrealism. The most notable thing about the genre is that it recycles music. At times just slowing the song down and calling it something new is enough. While vaporwave is not present in “Prom King” it is easy to hear that Spence is an artist with many influences coming from multiple areas of music.
Instrumentally, “Prom King” is deep and elaborate, and a plethora of instruments are used. Everything from guitars and synths to trumpets and violins have a home in this work. Samples of chimes and standard synth give this record its classic pop feel. Spence then adds modern, aggressive bass and drums to compliment that classic sound. Layer after layer of soundboards and guitars makes “Prom King” magical and foreign. The first track on side B, “Bounce Is Back,” is a perfect example of the whole album’s sound.
This album also includes Spence’s own vocals, which is something not often seen in his past work. His voice adds a hefty amount of emotion and passion. The vocal arrangement lies somewhere between 70s disco and modern bedroom pop, creating a unique sound which is truly difficult to describe.
Lyrically, “Prom King” is surprisingly sad. Words of self reflection, heartbreak and existential crisis heavily contrast this album’s overall bubbly sound.
Lyrics from track four, “I Can’t Be Your Superman,” discuss not being able to help a friend as hard as you try. “You’re not a fool/It’s just the way you were born/I try to help you/Tried as hard as I could/Held you down but you still begged for more/I tried to fight for you/But you remind me that I’m losing the war.” Drawing from personal experience, Spence had a friend who struggled with addiction and was beyond help. This track describes the feelings of self-doubt and inner turmoil that go along with being close to someone going through addiction.
“Prom King” is an album that has both meaningful lyrics and creative sounds from a well-versed artist. This record fits any time period and any occasion. Whether it’s crying over a broken heart, a night out or a party, this album is there. “Prom King” shows that even sound can be recycled.
Recommended Track: “Fiona Coyne”