Come Closer - Pretty Garbage (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Come Closer

Pretty Garbage (2021)

Pirate's Press Records

The name J. Wang might not ring a bell, but chances are good you’ve heard his work. He’s spent the last 15 plus years playing with Dan Padilla, Tiltwheel and other known punk commodities. While Come Closer is essentially a solo project, he also enlists a couple of his friends. Davey Quinn (Tiltwheel, Dan Padilla) and Chris Prescott (Pinback, No Knife, Rocket from the Crypt) contribute and nearly make Come Closer a low-key supergroup.

This new project is not rehash of what these guys are best known for. That is to say, they’re not a punk band and this is not a punk record. Pretty Garbage was recorded mostly at Wang’s home over the course of the lost year that was 2020. It feels very much like a reaction to the pandemic year. Even the name Come Closer would seem to yearn for an intimacy that was lost. They search for that intimate connection in the ‘90s alternative music of their youth.

Come Closer would seem to find their inspiration in things like Dinosaur Jr., Jane’s Addiction, The Pixies and The Lemonheads. Maybe even in second or third generation alternative rock radio bands like Gin Blossoms or Third Eye Blind. Don’t let that scare you. The songs are well written, and might connect with you in a way the most modern rock isn’t able to.

Songs like “Mayday”, “Bad Skin” and “High Life” jump out as the obvious singles, but repeated spins will bring out the depth of Pretty Garbage. It feels like a record that wasn’t rushed. Little flourishes like the train sample on “Get It Wrong” or the steel guitar on “Arms Up” might not have happened in a typical pay-by-the-hour studio situation. The acoustic and electric guitars are also layered, as are the vocal arrangements. The songs act like they want to be optimistic, but almost always end up being sort of melancholy.

It’s funny - during stressful times, people tend to be drawn toward comfort music. For many, those are the records that came out when they were 15 or 16 years old , and were really starting to appreciate music on a higher level. If you’re of a certain age, probably around 40, Come Closer will remind you of those care-free days. Pretty Garbage just might be the comfort record you’re going to need in 2021.