Photo: The Curls

The Curls – “Prickly Feelings” (audio) (premiere)

The Chicago art rock sextet returns with a quirky and sophisticated gem that's sure to give you goosebumps.

Quirky and skillful sextet the Curls may only be a few years old, but they’re quickly illustrating why Chicago is a major breeding ground for creative, idiosyncratic, and fearless music. Originally conceived as a “minimalist psych/folk project for singer/songwriter Mick [last name unknown]”, the band now sees itself as a “constantly evolving art rock entertainment content conglomerate” that endearingly blends bits of jazz, “new wave, psych, pop and prog rock” into refreshingly peculiar and sophisticated gems. Their latest track, “Prickly Feelings” (from upcoming LP SUPER UNIT), does an excellent job of showcasing their playful aesthetic.

The song begins with bouncy sax notes guiding carefree rhythms and otherworldly guitar dissonance, ultimately paving the way for Mick to harmonize with himself during the lively verses (“Prickly feelings are bringing me down / All I wanna do is swim around”). In-between each line, backing vocalist Anna adds charming chants, and together, these elements easily evoke the fun, imaginative, and technical prowess of artists like Knifeworld, Frank Zappa, Cheer-Accident, the Sugarplastic, and Bent Knee. In-between these moments, clever classic rock breaks give way to faint, muffled narration and avant-garde jazz arrangements.

It’s quite a welcoming yet intricate composition that packs a ton of adventurousness into its three-minute length. If “Prickly Feelings” is any indication of what SUPER UNIT as a whole has to offer, fans will definitely want to pick it up when it drops this fall. Check it out for yourself and see if you get those snappy sensations, too.