What’s in a name? Pretty Girls Make Graves adopted theirs from a Smiths song/ Jack Kerouac quote in 2001, and have wisely titled their latest album âˆšâ„¢lan Vital. Referring to the philosophy of an evolution-causing force, âˆšâ„¢lan Vital showcases a shift in maturity and style experimentation.Lead singer Andrea Zollo has an echoing, haunting voice much like Morrisey, which is offset by the crisp musicianship of bandmates Nick Dewitt, J Clark, Derek Fudesco, and new member, Leona Marrs. Openers “The Nocturnal House” and “Pyrite Pedes” pull in the listener with the familiar post-punk jams of past album The New Romance, then pushes them away confused yet craving more upon hearing catchy sixties dance inspired “The Number.” More genre curveballs are thrown by electric disco track “Domino,” hardcore meets accordion “Selling the Wind,” and the almost New Age dreamscape “Pearls on a Plate.” “The Magic Hour” shortly detours back into a typical PGMG song, while “Pictures of A Night Scene” presents Marrs with a chance to shine through on the keyboards and also allows Zollo a break on vocals. True, there are many unusual elements and vast changes from track to track, but âˆšâ„¢lan Vital is more quirkily planned than schizophrenically pieced together. Each song sounds enormously different from the others, yet they work together as an original album that could appeal to music fans of almost every spectrum. Half the fun of listening the first time is wondering what kind of song is next, like shaking a present before opening it.
In only three years time, Pretty Girls Make Graves morphed an already precise songwriting and performance method into a spanning style that still sticks to its roots. If their next album were to evolve even further, it would be superhuman.