Listening to Pretty Girls Make Graves' debut album, Good Health, feels like racing down a highway in the middle of the night. Landscape turns to streaks of movement, the road's broken gold line becomes one beneath the beam of the headlights, and windows rattle from the warm air shooting in and the blaring music escaping out. Flying down an interstate is dangerous, hypnotic and exhilarating it implies a sense of freedom and detachment from reality.
The erratic, punk rock sounds on Good Health evoke a similar thrilling sensation the listener isn't hurried, but the ride is. The rhythm lines race and surge, drilling guitar riffs spiral and rush in, and lead singer Andrea Zollo's staccato vocals rise and fall with impassioned urgency. And it's not some old beater taking the listener for a joyride this is a well-oiled machine.
The playing is accomplished and tight, the production is clean and crisp the nine-song blasting-and-banging album plays like a perfectly cherried-out muscle car. And this makes sense seeing how the Seattle-based band is made up of five experienced members, all with deep roots in punk rock. Bassist-vocalist Derek Fudesco played with the Murder City Devils for more than five years; Zollo, his girlfriend, sang in Death Wish Kids and The Hookers. Driven by broken melodies and push-pull guitar lines, lead track "Speakers Push the Air" floods in like a violent, thunderous storm, jumps up and down spastically and reminisces about the power of music: "I found a place where it feels alright/ I heard a record and it opened my eyes/ And nothing else matters/ When I turn it up loud."
With wiry guitar, floating feedback and heavy bass, "The Get Away" is the most emotionally charged and least speedy track, while "Bring It on Golden Pond" is frantic and on the verge of bursting for its drum machine build-ups and desperate screams. The sonically weighty and forceful record builds, erupts then streamlines like the off-road images that warp with speed. So hop in, kick back and enjoy it's a cool, cool ride.