I wasn’t expecting much from Pretty Girls Make Graves when they released The New Romance recently. I mean, I loved Good Health a lot but I wasn’t won over or anything. Good Health was a great post-punk album in the vein of Les Savy Fav. But when I had my first listen to The New Romance, the album just stunk of disappointment.
Wait; did I just call an album a disappointment? Will this be Brad’s first ever bad review? No.
This is a really good album, but it just pales in comparison to Good Health. Good Health was full of screaming vocals, rough-sounding guitars, and powerful punk drumming. The New Romance is full of sweet vocals, slick guitars, and dance punk beats. In fact, “Chemical, Chemical” is dance punk along the lines of a slower “Hot Hot Heat.”
The main problem I have with this album is how it sounds, which means I should blame the new producer. Damn, I can’t blame the producer; the magical Phil Ek produced both albums. He made Good Health a sloppy-sounding winner. With The New Romance he made it a slick, poppy, punky dancer (look no further than “Chemical, Chemical”).
But guess what? I still really dig the album. The opener, “Something Bigger, Something Brighter,” reminds me of something off of Good Health But it almost fails, like most songs on the album fail, due to production. Sometimes the vocals are muffled in post-production. Sometimes the songs just aren’t good (the way-too-slow “Holy Names” and the way-too-danceable musical “Mr. Club”).
But there are a couple of huge successes on the album. “The Teeth Collector” combines their past sound and the new production to create the highlight of the album, especially during the lines, “No more voices on the radio/ No more waiting by the telephone.”
The album closes with two of their best tracks to date: “This is our Emergency” and “A Certain Cemetery.”
With “A Certain Cemetery,” PGMG masters the art of the closer. Well, they master it once you forget the hideous lyric “What do you do when your angels have all flown away?” That lyric should never appear in any song, let alone an indie album.
But as the song crescendos into pure bliss and Andrea sings, “When this is over, it’s all right,” you realize that it is. This is a good album.
If I were you I would start with this album and then go to Good Health. That way, this one doesn’t disappoint you.
Because, really, this is a great album; I just liked the one before a whole lot more.