Archive for August, 2013

Pretty & Nice: Golden Rules For Golden People

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“Golden Rules For Golden People” is the Boston, MA trio Pretty & Nice’s second proper record, and their best yet. Typified by an angular and grandiose penchant for flippant rhythms and, by contrast, painstakingly beautiful melodies, this band has fashioned a unique nook for themselves amongst the vast array of indie rock’s more intelligent rockers.

At first I mistook the rampant key changes and the brainy, they-probably-went-to-music-school rhythmic varieties for an irreverent lack of focus. Frankly, I was annoyed by these songs and didn’t think they were worthy of the hands-down praise a few of my most cherished musical peers were giving it: “Dude, you gotta get into this! It’s like a more accessible Q and Not U!” For whatever reason, though, I just couldn’t get on board. But, something happened (I honestly don’t know what) and now 3 months later, it’s one of my favorite albums of 2013 and by far one of the most exciting 32 minutes of music I’ve heard in a long, long time.

That skittishness I keep referring to starts with the majestic opener “Stallion and Mare.” Never mind the lyrics, in just under four minutes, this music moves seamlessly from a descending and modulating melody reminiscent of John Lennon’s catchier Mid-Beatles work, to a rollicking and distorted mid-section that could be on “Offend Maggie,” to a triumphant coda that stunningly melds its two predecessors together, leaving the audience gasping for air.

While harboring a punky aesthetic that’s chock full of spiky guitars and dense brevity, the album constantly cannibalizes familiar pop music staples and combines them with a frenetic flair for the unpredictable; urging its listeners to internalize these shifts as though they were parts of a complicated work out regimen. “New Czar,” with its sunny and buoyant intro, immediately puts you in a top-down, carefree mood before a chunky and frightening backbeat consumes the song. It then tries on three more equally contrasting hats in the next minute only to reprise that sparkling prelude, spurring a cathartic realization: it’s something you’ve heard, forgot about, and are now grateful to hear again because its just so damn lively.

This satisfaction happens a lot on “Golden Rules,” hell, it even happens when I’m not listening to it. At times I’ll wake up in the morning singing the chorus of “The Frog,” the album’s closing anthem, and smile and wonder “how did that get in there? I’ve been asleep for eight hours.” And before I know it, I’m trying to quell that sticky syndrome by listening to the song again and i’ve unintentionally answered my own question. This sort of blind admiration doesn’t just create itself, though, I’ve probably listened to this record more than anything else since May, and if Last.fm could track the amount of times I’ve sang these choruses to myself or to my drunk friends when I’m drunk, it’d be some kind of record.

The pastiche nature that defines this album is certainly not for everyone, and there are definitely parts that still whiz by me in an annoying flurry of indecision, but I’ve let “Golden Rules For Golden People” seep into my life, and I’m proud to say so. And, if you’ve any flair for the exciting unpredictability of it all, you’d would be foolish to overlook this one, as I almost did.


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