PRE – Hope Freaks Album Review

Earlier this year, I had the luxury of catching a post-SxSW party at Beerland in Austin. Starting at around noon, the show featured a host of bands that are pretty sonically divergent but tread in similar social footsteps, if you will — such as Past Lives, AIDS Wolf, The Mae Shi, and PRE. At the time, the London-based PRE played an early set, of which I only managed to catch a snippet. That snippet, however, was more than enough to arouse my curiosity, and a bouncing, screeching vocalist Akiko ‘Exceedingly Good Keex” Matsuura caught my attention immediately.

A shrill, spastic banshee of sorts (but without the creepiness), Matsuura fronts PRE, defining and complementing their intense sound. Full of angular riffs and fast beats, Hope Freaks is full of short, nonsensical songs that get your blood pumping. And even despite any predispositions one might have about PRE fans or the “way-too-cool” scene they’re lumped in with, PRE are really much more than a bunch of mindless trashy noisemakers filling a fad niche. I don’t doubt for a second that PRE believe and love the type of music they’re crafting.

Hope Freaks is legitimately good, in a noisecore kind of way. Short, simple tracks heavily reliant on rhythm wallop your earbuds good and move forth with punk tenets strongly in mind. Sonically falling somewhere between bands like Daughters and Melt-Banana, Hope Freaks is a helluva album, and don’t let scenes and band associations lead you to believe otherwise.

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Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

Vee has two narrative short films. Searching Skies (2017) touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States; with it, they helped co-organize The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. Reckless Spirits (2022) is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature-length project.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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Written by Vee Hua 華婷婷
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