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Pretty Girls Make Graves | The New Romance (Matador)
You don't call your opening song Something Bigger, Something Brighter for nothing you know. This is Pretty Girls Make Graves' bigger, brighter follow up to last year's thoroughly decent 'Good Health' LP (LP? It was only eight tracks long ?? you decide), and from the outset it's clear that the band mean business ?? "Make it electric/I've got to know that I'm still alive!" sings Andrea Zollo (who must surely by now be considering suing Kelly Osbourne for stealing her look, albeit badly) on said opening song. If that was a little too sedate for your liking, with its subtle keyboard licks, don't fret, as following effort The Grandmother Wolf is pure punk-meets-proper-pop sass. "When your heart stops beating/we'll be waiting right here!" yells Zollo over some trademark PGMG choppy guitars. She goes on: "You aren't the ones who fascinate us," she sings softly, as guitars give way to piano and gentle backing vocals from her male cohorts (Nathan Thelen, Jay Clark, Nick Dewitt and Derek Fudesco). Well dear, that's because it's you who fascinate us. The band bare their punk teeth on All Medicated Geniuses, which collapses into a dusty heap of discordant guitars and shrieked vocals by its end, but on the whole 'The New Romance' is as balanced as any album you'll ever hear ?? the volatile and vitriolic is matched in ample measures by the grace and grandeur, as showcased on the band's first UK single, and album high-point This Is Our Emergency, which may or may not be a paean to the often overlooked simplicities of love, or maybe love not yet found, with key lyrics including "Baby you don't have to be/a picture in a magazine" and "We may have never met but/it might be you who pulls me through." Got a 'Fever To Tell' us about? Have you gorged on it until the point of sickness? Well, here's your antidote.

Mike Diver
CWAS #13 - Autumn 2003