KING OF PRUSSIA
The story goes that Frederic the Great, an Enlightenment geek and the namesake of this Chicago-by-way-of-Barcelona-and-Athens, Ga., act, thought he could outfox an aging Johann Sebastian Bach by daring him to compose a fugue out of a sophisticated melody thought to be “un-fugue-able.” Bach, a skilled improviser, delivered on the spot with what later became “The Musical Offering.” Most of that is neither here nor there, really, though peripatetic frontman Brandon Hanick can cobble together a fine song no matter the locale or his band name’s etymology. Through three LPs, Hanick’s songs have balanced between the frantic storytelling of his acid-soaked Athens progenitors (more Apples in Stereo than Neutral Milk Hotel) and the sweet, twee sounds of Brit bands like the Smiths or the Clientele. Last year’s highly polished Transmissions From the Grand Strand was exemplary sophisticated pop, sounding more Euro than American, as song titles like “Love on a Metro,” “Transatlantic (The New Frontier)” and “The Ghost of L’Estartit” would suggest. But your nationalist tendencies should be won over by the tasteful horn sections and orchestral strings that show up judiciously in the arrangements of pop songs whose best traits unfold with repeat listens.