Dear class: Who are Pretty Girls Make Graves? Discuss. No, like, really.
Hate to get all first-year here, but the question does beg. And does beg
more questions. Like: What does this rockband stand for? What does their
discography amount to? And: Do they actually have any "like, any"
true-blue, dyed-in-the-wool, name-on-their-pencil-case,
soundtrack-to-my-life fans? Would anyone lay their heart on the line for
this band? Lay down and die for this band? And, if not: Does that really
matter? Is that the only validation we have for the rock bands?
reason Pretty Girls Make Graves are hard to define, hard to love, and
hard to care about is that they are a rock band as committee: five voices,
all with opinions. The members confessedly lack any sort of musical taste
in common, but still, as band, they seek to find common ground. As they've
struggled to do so, PGMG have cooked up a confusing discography. It, of
course, only really begs more questions, but, basically, it
reads, rote: made a rough-as-guts lo-fi punk-rock record for Steve Aoki's
cool-chasing Dim Mak; made a Rainer-Maria-esque set of dynamic, screamy
boy/girl emo for punk grandaddies Lookout!; made a dressed-up/drossed-out
new-wave disappointment for Matador. And, now, they're back with their
latest installment of look-how-we-keep-changing: Élan Vital, an
only after they scrapped all the original sessions for it.
stylized hollowness of The New Romance, the record marks a major
improvement, there being a definite sense of urgency in "Selling the Wind,"
there being a hit single in the union anthem "Parade," there being a
of unto-themselves experimentalism in both major arrangements and incident
details. But, still, it's hard to love as a whole. Because, basically, it
rarely feels whole. It is, at one time or another, twee reggae, hipster
rock-ism, synth-pop balladry, post-Interpol gothickry. It's an
inconsistency that's both noble and annoying. And you get the feeling that
Pretty Girls Make Graves whoever they are,
and whatever that means wouldn't have it any other way.