Okay, all you fans of female-fronted rock bands take note. Whether you are a Paramore fan, a No Doubt fan, hell, even a fan of The Saturdays, you are doing it wrong. If we're seriously going to talk about front-women in bands then may I direct you to the fantastic Pretty Girls Make Graves, lead by the spellbinding Andrea Zollo.
I bet you're excited now right? A female lead singer to get excited about? Well sadly, the excitement will have to be slightly posthumous; Pretty Girls Make Graves split up in 2007. However, they did release 3 fantastic albums, and album no. 2 - The New Romance - is the record I want to talk about today.
Title track "The New Romance" acts as an introduction to the record in a way, even though it's all the way down at track 10. As Andrea sings; "It started in a basement, it started in a bedroom...there's a fire inside my head", and you get an idea of the passion behind this music.
It's definitely worth mentioning that Pretty Girls Make Graves make absolutely brilliant music. Intertwining guitar lines, dancey bass guitar, drumming that continually innovates and improves upon itself. Each song is a little adventure with twists and turns-a-plenty.
The album starts proper with it's longest track, "Something Bigger, Something Better", and kicks off with lullaby-esque vocals and tribal drums and guitars, before it kicks into a synth-laden dance-punk track about a minute and a half in. This sets the pace for the next track too, before proceedings are interupted with a short synthy track "Mr. Club". Even for a short dancey instrumental, it does a good job at preparing you for the fantastic "All Medicated Geniuses".
This track is frantic to say the least. "Our ideas they die so quickly", sings Andrea over frenetically duelling guitars, and this rings true as the song constantly involves and changes, refusing to settle into a standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus end routine. Don't get me wrong, there are verses, there are choruses, but they all have a different flavour, a different rhythm, a different feeling. When it's all stuck together, it makes a brilliantly cohesive song.
"Blue Lights" and "Chemical Chemical" follow on from this, the former being a song split in two; one half an introspective, restrained monologue; one half extrovert confessional, with the trademark jagged guitars fighting each other to the death, and the latter being art-punk by number with hihat laden disco drum patterns playing host to playful guitars.
"This Is Our Emergency" is another big stand out track on this record. Like a more twitchy, energetic version of "This Modern Love" by Bloc Party, it's like an indie-rock call to arms, with Andrea Zollo stating, nay, DEMANDING that "This is Our Emergency", before the song explodes into life. This might be the most standard song in terms of song structure on this album, but that doesn't mean a thing, as it throbs with a determined longing, and has a certain feeling of triumph to it.
The album ends with the downbeat "A Certain Cemetery" featuring soaring vocals, and features a fantastic franz ferdinand-esque breakdown, before the track turns into a mess of fuzzy keyboards and music box, with the vocals taking a turn for the melocholic. The guitars kick in again as the track reaches an anthemic end, with a repetition of "When this is over...., it's alright, it's alright", letting the listener know that all they have to do is reach for the play button, or turn over the record, and the whole journey can start again.
In conclusion, this is a fantastic record, and really worth your time. I can't recommend them highly enough.