Pretty Girls Make Graves - Good Health (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Pretty Girls Make Graves

Good Health (2002)


With their debut full length Pretty Girls Make Graves has thus far defied a lot of stereotypes and categorizations. They're signed to Lookout Records buy in no way exhibit the Lookout sound. They developed in the shadow of the critically lauded Murder City Devils but avoided the pressure to continue that band's sound. They're in the post-hardcore vein but have avoided the common vocal stylings associated with that music. They're playing fast and catchy punk rock buy haven't let conventional patterns lock in.

Long story short, "Good Health" is an original, interesting and involving record.

The rolling organ notes that open the anthemic "Speakers Push The Air" explode into a blasting yet intricately layered wall of sound. A crash of drummer Nick Dewitt's percussion gives way to racing dual vocals from bassist Derek Fudesco and singer Andrea Zollo. All the while the guitars of Jason Clark and Nathen Johnson swirl and duel and add to the frantic commotion of the opening track.

Zollo's lyrics are straightforward but don't lack subtlety, if anything they avoid the abstract imagery other post-hardcore acts employ. She expresses a range of emotions, from the defiant optimism of the opening track to the agitated frustration of "If you hate your friends, you're not alone." She employs a cathartic writing style that speaks to the listener. Her audience can empathize with her, as in this verse from "By The Throat," which effectively depicts a social claustrophobia:

"Crowds of people, bodies brushing
Mouths are moving, all white noise
Glasses clicking, people screaming
Hi hum low buzz no room to breath"

The band has been frequently compared to lot of At The Drive In, which can be heard particularly in songs like "More Sweet Soul." They display shades of Fugazi and the kind of unconventional guitar-play that How Water Music would kill for. The band shows a lot of range, from the delicate opening of "The Get Away" to the shouting-match of "Bring It On Golden Pond."

The album clocks in at about 27 minutes and the length is really where this release falters. The band speeds through incredibly layered and surprisingly intricate arrangements, coupled with multiple vocalists and a very sensible use of electronic effects, all of which can seem a bit overwhelming on the first spin. "Good Health" reveals its charms with repeated listens and is wholly more satisfying if given some time and attention. One of the more interesting releases so far this year...