I don't much care for the "indie" bands that have garnered most of the critical praise over the past couple of years: the Strokes (the music of yesterday today, only crappy), White Stripes (the drumming is not "primitive," it's bad), Sleater Kinney (somewhere in Olympia, there's a goat being kicked). But I appreciate Seattle's Pretty Girls Make Graves, the newest punk-pop band poised for gushing by Greil Marcus and his ilk. And if a grouch like me enjoys Pretty Girls Make Graves, the rest of you are going to adore them.
Together just over a year, Pretty Girls are polished. The group's cohesive sound owes something to the fact that each band member has racked up time in previous groups: Vocalist Andrea Zollo flexed her prowess in a variety of hardcore/pop bands, including the Death Wish Kids, the Hookers, and Area 51. Singer/guitarist Jason Clark played in Kill Sadie and Sharks Keep Moving. Drummer/singer Nick Dewitt and guitarist Nathen Johnson carried on in the Bee Hive Vaults, and bassist Derek Fudesco was a founding member of both the Death Wish Kids and Murder City Devils. This range of experience makes for a rich collaboration, clearly demonstrated on Pretty Girls' debut full-length.
At eight songs, Good Health contains a wealth of musical, if not lyrical, content. The song's confessional subjects--I'm mad, I'm sad, I feel weird at social events--can be tedious, especially when delivered in that horrible, ubiquitous "angry" staccato. All is not lost, though. Zollo is versatile, and she gives most songs a thoughtful, distinctive voice, while behind her, guitars, bass and drums skillfully jump in and out of one another's way. Driving and fast-paced, Good Health also features the ballads "Sad Girls Por Vida" and "The Get Away," dreamy, driven tangles of melody and percussion.
"Do you remember when you couldn't put it away?" Zollo and her bandmates call out in the album's bright opening anthem, "Speakers Push the Air," a vibrant mash note to music. (I'm pretty sure they're talking about repeating records, not whipping it out.) The answer is no, not recently. This release just might change that.
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