A really hard album to pin down. If you’ve heard the Fiery Furnaces’ Blueberry Boat, there’s a good point of reference. Only while the songs on Blueberry Boat share a taste for eccentric vocals and instruments and sudden changes (“New Czar” has what, three or four parts?) in tempo, mood, melody, etc., their songs tend to be on the longer side. Pretty and Nice’s songs, on the other hand, are maybe three or four minutes. And within those three or four minutes, you’ll flip from straightforward garage rock to bouncy, carnivalesque music to almost psychedelic levels of lunacy. Now, I could see someone really hating this, but I think it’s fun stuff, personally.
Needless to say, this is one goofy album. You can’t go around calling yourself something like “Pretty and Nice” without being goofy, I would suppose. That’s where a song like “Mummy Jets” comes into play. “Mummy Jets,” incidentally, is probably my favorite song here – I really like the off-the-wall falsetto, and the combination of skronky guitars and (intentionally, I’m sure) cheesy keyboards make it a fun time. And if you thought that was a one-off, you were wrong – “Critters” has a garage beat and some of the most absurd-sounding synthesizers I’ve ever heard, as well as vocals that admittedly do call Devo to mind, and “New Czar” has one of the least martial martial beats ever used, as well as keyboards that almost sound like something out of a cartoon.
Of course, it only gets odder as it goes. There’s an accordion in “Q_Q,” which fits in quite well with the general garage rock/carnival feel of the thing. Come to think of it, that might be the main reason why I don’t want to fit them in with these “zolo” bands that everyone else likes to: they’ve got way too much of a garage rock thing going on to fit nicely in there. Even more than the early Flaming Lips, these are the punk rockers taking acid: when they do something like “Yonkers,” which doesn’t add the crazy keyboards (which here sound a little like horns) until about halfway through, it’s downright shocking. Of course, “Yonkers” then settles into that extraordinarily pretty and completely unexpected vocal interlude, which sort of brings their universe back into whatever sort of order it might or might not be able to boast. The electronic-flavored “Gold Fools” and the slower “Money Music” (which could almost make the radio) are real shocks stylistically, but they fit in their own ways.
And hey, it’s a good time. I imagine it’s not really for everyone, but I found it to be a lot of fun, if a little one-dimensional. Still, if you’re up for something off-the-wall, I think you’ll have a fun time with this.