Personnel: Nimai Larson (vocals, drums, unknown instrument); Taraka Larson (guitar, synthesizer).
Photographer: Will Rahilly.
For the first few years of Prince Rama's existence, the group explored mystical, mantra-heavy tribal psych-rock jams that took them back to their spiritual roots (co-founding sisters Taraka and Nimai Larson grew up on a Hare Krishna farm in Florida). On 2016's Xtreme Now, however, the Larson sisters seem to be revisiting their musical roots as well -- they started out as a pop-punk band before getting into psychedelic and experimental music while attending art school in Boston. 2012's Top Ten Hits of the End of the World brought much more of a pop focus to their work, as its concept centered around covering hit songs by groups that had died in that year's fictitious apocalypse, and Xtreme Now is even more accessible, embracing disco, new wave, garage rock, and yes, pop-punk. The album's back story involves a near-death experience Taraka had while visiting ancient Viking ruins on an island off the coast of Estonia, which caused a state of "time-schizophrenia" during which she appeared to exist in multiple eras at the same time. This resulted in a collision between the year 2067 and medieval times, where she witnessed the union of high art and extreme sports, spawning the energy drink-fueled genre of "Speed Art." The majority of Xtreme Now's 11 songs are high-octane blasts themed around positive energy, living in the moment, and having fun, and it's not hard to imagine the raging punk guitar riffs of "Xtreme Now Energy" popping up in a snowboarding video. Despite the higher tempos and renewed appreciation for amped-up guitars, the chanted vocals and lyrics of songs like "Now Is the Time of Emotion" still seem in line with the spirit of their earlier material, even if it's not quite as shrouded in reverb. Other tracks, such as opener "Bahia" and "Fantasy," embrace bombastic Euro-disco, with lightly chugging synth arpeggios and pounding percussion. Prince Rama still haven't lost their mystical side, however, with the Baroque, pastoral folk of "Sochi" and the spacy, half-acoustic garage pop of the oddly White Stripes-esque closing track "Shitopia" feeling significantly more reserved than the majority of the album. ~ Paul Simpson