I don’t think that Kindergarten Prayers, the new album by Streaking in Tongues, is a major threat on the Billboard charts this summer. In fact, I don’t think that Streaking in Tongues is even interested in the excess of the commercial side of music. Everything about their new record tells me that this is a duo that only cares about one thing and one thing only; making beautiful music that is organic, original and completely unique. They accomplish all three with Kindergarten Prayers, and although they might have come looking for fame and adulation, I think they’re going to find plenty of it with this latest release.
Kindergarten Prayers is the bread and butter of college radio playlists incarnate. There are shades of post-punk, outsider music, noise and even free jazz in the 22 songs found on this record, and I would go as far as to say that this is anti-folk designed specifically for 2018. This isn’t just going to find some success on college and specialty radio stations from one coast to the next; it’s going to flat out dominate them.
The last album by Streaking in Tongues Life Support hinted at the kind of maturity they display on this record, but nothing could have prepared us for its shimmering tonality.
In a lot of ways, songs like “Death of the Clock,” “Young Again” and “There Goes My Head” read like a childhood prayer, while other tracks like the Michio Kurihara-evoking “Kindergarten Daze” are so abrasively experimental that they leave the listener feeling exposed and vulnerable, much like the live wire-style rhythms of the songs themselves. Kindergarten Prayers is like an animated dream sequence that plays out before our very ears one scene after another, each more exquisitely indulgent and provocatively severe than the one that preceded it.
Streaking in Tongues takes us on a different adventure every time they record a record, and in this case, the theme is definitely innocence itself, and the way that chief songwriter Ronnie Ferguson goes about unfolding this story is spellbinding to put it mildly. Like life, this album is totally unpredictable. Kindergarten Prayers pushes the limits of melody a lot, but we never go over the edge (even in an anthological drone-like “Kindergarten Prayer #3). For as experimental as this band is, Streaking in Tongues showcases a lot of restraint in songs like this one, and that might be part of why they stand out so much in their scene.
There isn’t any need to beat around the bush: Kindergarten Prayers is an album that deserves your attention. Making relevant pop music isn’t about making songs that are going to end up in a Pepsi commercial or getting a million hits on Spotify (if that even means anything anymore after the fallout from Drake’s last album). It’s about capturing the feeling of a time and place in the history of music, and that’s exactly what Streaking in Tongues does here. I wouldn’t even be surprised if Kindergarten Prayers exceeds the commercial performance expectations of the band; just because you’re loyal to the DIY ethos doesn’t mean you can’t have some success, too.
-review by Jodi Marxbury