At first glance, The Pretty Littles are a scrappy rock n roll band from Melbourne, with nothing more than an adrenaline shot to the brain via some hoarse n coarse rock music. At second glance, and however many fucking glances you want to take, it’s pretty obvious that the first impression isn’t going to change. And thank fuck for that. No one needs another self-indulgent poetic indie-folk band, or a bunch of stadium rocking glam stars. But let it be said, that there’s always room for some dole-bludgin’, beer-swindlin’, chick-chasin’ (and hastily rejected) rock n roll bands. So, if anything, The Pretty Littles are just doing their bit.
Sure, they sound a bit too much like The Vasco Era, but at least they picked those guys as a band to emulate, as compared to other 2000’s bands like JET, Eskimo Joe or, God forbid, The Living End. And anyway, for the most part, The Vasco Era wrote some really fucking solid songs. And for the most part, The Pretty Littles emulate that.
Let’s start with the opener ‘Never Felt Worse’. Now that’s a fucking riot of a tune, from start to finish. If Mad Max wanted to pen a love ballad, he probably would’ve come up with ‘Never Felt Worse’. It’s dirty, hard and grinds like a completely fucked engine on a V8. If modern-day Jack White was pushed face first into a barbeque, their screams could probably be concocted into something like this song. A fucking rip-snorter if you’ve ever heard one.
The rest of the album takes turns repeating the success of ‘Never Felt Worse’ (‘Rubba Arm’, ‘Dingo’) with slightly more tame rock, (‘Om Beach’, ‘Noobie’) and even some power-balladry (‘Your Maker’). Oh, and then there’s the big surprise of the record, ‘The University Blues’, a song that’s motherfucking acoustic, and is easily one of the better songs that The Pretty Littles have ever released. If The White Stripes ‘We Are Going to Be Friends’ was all grown-up and had adopted some nihilism and self-awareness, but lost none of its sighing charm, and then was dropped in the middle of the outer-Melbourne suburbs, you’d have ‘The University Blues’.
Following in the veins of Children Collide and British India, the format and songs of ‘Mash’ are pretty successful and encapsulate the album with more substance than perhaps most were expecting of The Pretty Littles. However, maybe if the ball-busting punk tunes were more spread out, and another one was added in place of the rockier tunes, it would have allowed ‘Mash’ to be swallowed a little easier.
However, for the most part, The Pretty Littles’ debut is fucking strong, and if you don’t find yourself obsessed with at least one song on the record, then you’ve done something wrong.