March 20, 2021
Written by Eric Foreman
PRETTY/NORMAL RELEASE THEIR CATHARTIC AND CATCHY SELF-TITLED EP
The debut, eponymous EP from No Sleep Record’s signee Pretty/Normal masquerades the inherent horror of existentialism into cathartic, catchy choruses and brooding post-hardcore jams.
Pretty/Normal arrives comprised of members from various excellent New England hardcore and post hardcore bands including RI’s Verse and MA’s Aviator. The experience of these prior groups is immediately evident as these 5 tracks show a cohesiveness and maturity seen rarely in young bands. With their debut record, the 4-piece shows glaring potential and creates a space to process, whether it be singing at the top of lungs or sitting quietly and reflecting.
The main strengths of the songs lie in their emotional honesty and their dynamics. On first single “Panic Disorderly Coveralls”, the band instrumentally oscillates between driving rhythm with picked guitars and an all out chorus calling to mind post-hardcore heavyweights such as Circa Survive or Balance and Composure. “I know we’re all afraid of dying” wails vocalist Quinn Murphy. Many of the lyrical foundations of the songs began as poems written as Murphy was in and out of psychiatric hospitals working on managing their mental health over a few year period. There is an awareness and a clarity to the words on this EP that captivate the listener (think La Dispute’s Jordan Dreyer).
Another highlight of this record comes from the drumming of Aviv Marotz. The drums underline the emotional weight of the songs, providing a foundation, a groove and exclamation point to the messages being delivered by the rest of the band. Stand out track “Observations from the Kitchen Floor” sees Marotz weaving a captivating hi hat groove into a pounding cymbal ride as the band escalates the tension in the music.
New in name but not in experience, Pretty/Normal come through with a stellar first offering for fans of emotional hardcore or post hardcore. The driving guitars, grooving beats and indelible lyricism urge emotional response from the listener. The time spent crafting these tracks comes through as raw emotional power that is commendable for a first release. As they say, you cannot rush it if it doesn’t move you.