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PREECE, 'Give Preece a Chance'

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PREECE, Give Preece a Chance
  • PREECE, Give Preece a Chance

(Self-released, digital)

PREECE are a pop-punk project carried almost entirely by multi-instrumental songwriter Sean Preece. The band's latest release is an unlikely stylistic turn. Rather than another slab of anthemic angst, Give Preece a Chance consists of acoustic versions of songs from his strong 2018 debut, Bad Choices Make Good Stories.

Now, if you're thinking "MTV Unplugged" ... well, don't. These are all studio-polished tracks, rather than live cuts or bootleg demos. Every track here is truly a new version of the songs, awash in reverb and delay and carefully mixed.

In fact, the presentation leans so heavily on the "pop" end of pop punk that the songs are basically ready for a car commercial or an extended musical montage in an episode of "Grey's Anatomy." Hopefully Preece, the person, doesn't take that as an insult. Either way, he's got a potentially lucrative calling, crafting earworms beyond the constricted genre conventions of punk.

Putting Preece's vocals squarely in the spotlight only emphasizes his natural gifts. Dude won't win "American Idol" or anything, but his easy lilt is perfectly suited to this kind of material. The performances here are animated and heartfelt, especially the EP closer "Girl in My Bed," which is also the longest cut, at a whopping three minutes. (After all, Preece's songs are more Fat Mike than Bob Dylan.)

For a five-song set built around acoustic guitar jangle, Give Preece a Chance exhibits remarkable sonic range. Chalk that up to Preece's role as a busy sideman about town — he's been an asset to dozens of bands over the years, especially as a drummer. The other big factor is Preece's longtime collaborator and producer, Jer Coons.

The famously bearded, blue-eyed hunk is credited as producer, engineer and mixer, and you can detect his fingerprints throughout. There are subtle touches on the margins and some knockout orchestration work on the hooks. In other words, it's what you'd expect from an experienced session musician who doubles as an inventive A&R guy.

What makes this oddball gem work, though, is the synergy between the two artists. No amount of polish could redeem bad songs when the arrangements are this sparse, and Preece has picked his battles carefully.

Even on "Tomorrow Today," the only track to feature a full drum set, the percussion blends into the background of the song itself. The focus is always on the melodies and the lyrics. Preece has a knack for balancing the genre's usual lovesick-loser lamentations with sly self-awareness.

Not that there aren't clichés here. In fact, Preece revels in them. He loves them, and respects them the next morning, too. That authenticity is the lifeblood of Give Preece a Chance, a downright weird idea that wound up as a rock-solid little project.

PREECE perform with Dino Bravo on Thursday, January 23, at SideBar in Burlington. Give Preece a Chance is available at preece.bandcamp.com.