Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Get to Know: Pretty & Nice

There’s a certain, for lack of a better word, bravado that comes with the Boston music scene; an air of fury and excess that somehow feels unique to the area and yet completely relatable to outsiders like myself. It’s there in Bang Camaro’s drunken party-boy mentality; in the Dropkick Murphys’ celebration and refusal of working-class complacency; in the Pixies’ bizarre, poetic lyrics coupled with grinding guitar work and Black Francis’ manic bellowing; and in practically everything about Anal Cunt. Compared to these bands, Pretty & Nice, with their cheerful disposition, love of falsetto, and catchy, inoffensive pop styling, is something of an outcast.

Perhaps it has to do with Holden Lewis, Pretty & Nice’s co-founder, and his Vermont origins (where, according to the band’s page on recording label Hardly Art’s website, “the band sprouted from [his mind] in 2004”). Whatever the reason, it’s clear that he and fellow bandmates Jeremy Mendicino and Bobby Landry are less interested in fashioning an in-your-face presence – lyrically or musically – than in crafting cheery, snapping pop songs with Devoesque instrumentation and a touch of early They Might Be Giants’ attention deficit disorder, switching tone and style mid-way through song only to later double-back on itself.

It wouldn’t be fair, though, to say that Pretty & Nice is just another Ting Tings, only capable of producing criminally catchy and yet ultimately disposable tracks. There’s a definite intricacy to their music, a sometimes Shins-like blending of dissonant musical themes, extant sounds, amplifier screeches, and harmonious falsettos that, somehow come together to form something bizarre but inexplicably enticing. Not to mention that the band, like their Detroit-based peers OK Go, subscribe to the philosophy that one be sonically sunny and inviting and place it to dark, complex lyrics that Elvis Costello perfected – the proverbial having one’s cake and eating it too. I wouldn’t go so far as to proclaim them the music virtuosos of our time, but suffice to say, there’s more to Pretty & Nice than their incredibly catchy, often dancey songs. Speaking of which, did I mention how goddamn catchy they are?
Get Young, Pretty & Nice’s latest album, can be streamed in its entirety on the band’s website. The band also has a Myspace that houses music, blog posts, show information, and all the other usual stuff you find on Myspaces.

-John Gawarecki-Maxwell
Editor's Note: Be sure to catch Pretty & Nice next Thursday night 2/19 at Great Scott. Tickets are $8 and the doors are at 9pm! (And this time, it's 18+, so you really have no excuse.)

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