On a 7-inch single called "Tough Love," Reading Rainbow’s precursor to Prism Eyes, a super-charged guitar takes over the chorus and the distant call-and-response shouting match resembles a Joan Jett-Joey Ramone duet. A whirl of CMJ appearances last month cemented the Philly-based husband and wife’s reputation for teaming 70s punk and 60s psych-pop with ample pep; they’re "DIY’s Matt and Kim," one review quipped. Here though, on their debut for lo-fi boosting label HoZac, the scales tend to tip more in favor of tenderhearted fuzz pop than anything resembling Joan or Joey.
With a few exceptions, the ticking time-bomb energy of "Tough Love" is lost. While songs like "White Noise" and "Prism Eyes" replicate The Ramones’ rudimentary in-the-garage feel, we also get a lot of Sarah Everton’s vocals smeared across keyboard-tweaked pastoral pop. It’s difficult not to think of their fellow drum-guitar buddies in Eternal Summers, song after song.
Coincidentally, the album follows lots of chatter, thanks to n+1 and others, about "the end of the hipster." If we’re to hold this primary theory true, that the hipster subculture is slowly assimilating into mass culture, then Reading Rainbow’s wishy-washy vocals, ever trendy tom-and-snare combo, and increased use of a Casio makes Prism Eyes seem like a paint-by-numbers approach to garnering mass appeal. They’re likely not trying to lose their edge here and, at the end of the day, are churning out some incredibly catchy pop music, but you can’t help but wonder if they could be the prototype for the Last Hipster Band, vying for approval among people who love The Vaselines, and people who haven’t the slightest idea about The Vaselines.