Prinzhorn Dance School make a virtue out of incompetence: strong-willed, quasi-comedic, punkishly fucked-up. The basslines lurch while the rudimentary drums trip and stagger and try to stay upright—it’s less a full-fledged rhythm section than a childish wish for one. A guy-girl duo, Tobin Prinz and Suzi Horn are closer to a plodding version of fellow Brits the Kills than our own White Stripes. Fault them for their faux-naive artiness if you must, but you try taking three wonky bass notes and building a song as inexplicably catchy as the nonsensical “Crackerjack Docker.” Prinzhorn’s home on DFA records makes more sense when you imagine the dance-friendly remixes that will doubtlessly spin off this debut, a caffeinated version of “Up! Up! Up!” possibly invigorating the jaded kids the way “House of Jealous Lovers” once did.
Part of what makes Prinzhorn so irresistible to these Yankee ears is their earnest Britishness, the mucky accents that allow a phrase like “cockroaches in my ice cream” or “white bread gives you cancer” to sound like anthemic manifestos worthy of the Clash. Whether that’s deserved or simply the result of Anglophilia is beside the point: By any logical definition, this eponymous debut should be obnoxious, bound by its shambolic limitations. But somehow, despite a tendency toward repetition, this is an addictive mess of lo-fi pop, albeit one best indulged a handful at a time. “What you wear can get you killed/Hobgoblins!” Prinz intones on “Realer, Pretender.” I might not know what the hell you mean, guv’nor, but I’m buying it.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 21, 2007