Review: Pretty Hurts, Make Graves (Rockstar/Grave Imprint, 2015)

Described by Rockstar Records as "an angrier version of some DC bands during the 'Revolution Summer' mixed with post-modern Scandinavian noise bands," Make Graves is the debut outing from Berlin, Germany trio Pretty Hurts. In less than 14 minutes, the EP offers six songs of raw hardcore/punk with a sheen of noise rock and subtle flourishes of dark post-punk beneath the surface. It sort of reminds me of Young Adults—one of my favorite bands of the last five years—which immediately places Pretty Hurts high on my list of current acts.

Opener "Acceleration" lets hyper energetic basslines run the show, surrounded by jangly guitars and half-sung/half-shouted vocals mixed deep in the heart of the instrumentation. The 55-second blast of "Hypnagogic Hallucinations" is far noisier and more frantic, however, with discordant gnashes of tremolo picked guitar chords and light distortion over the vocals (the similarly scathing "Moving Fast" later treads a similar path).

"Hurts" walks the line between bass-heavy grooves and sporadic bursts of occasionally warped guitars and stabbing feedback surges; while "Everybody" creates a slower and more somber atmosphere with monotone singing. Reminiscent of other contemporary favorites like Red Vienna, it brings the post-punk aspects to the fore, while the core tempo still retains a driving force—as heard, too, in "Ambition," which applies some of that atmosphere to a slightly more aggressive and hard-hitting framework

The aptly rugged recording definitely has a live feel to it—its natural drum sounds and bass-centric mix always a plus. It's cool that they experiment with a lot of different tones and textures from track to track, and in a manner that still feels cohesive. Hell, there's even a garage rock vibe at times, most notably via the stripped down distortion on the guitars in "Acceleration."

An incredibly impressive debut in both songwriting and feel, Make Graves finds Pretty Hurts among the rare acts that I'll actively follow for more. Available as a one-sided 12", cassette, or digitally, cassettes and limited edition white vinyl are already sold out, so make the grab while you still can if you're down for physical product...

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  1. new song from upcoming full length…

    8.16.2016 | By Hans-Peter Weberknecht