Fitting in, no matter what that means, is something most of the population spends the better part of a lifetime trying to achieve, and in the song “Misfits” by Pretty Awkward, this experience is interpreted to an especially creative lens best described as both provocative and rather surreal. Though it’s been quite popular in the last year to invite postmodern themes into indie rock – at least in the underground of the United States and Canada – Pretty Awkward are going about their contribution to a cerebral pop music by staying out of psychedelics and instead focusing on a vivid style of lyricism.
Theirs is an aesthetic that borrows a little from punk’s self-awareness but leaves all of the brutishness of the genre’s fast n’ hard edge out of the equation altogether, and beneath the multidimensional melodicism lies a simplistic pop/rock conceptualism that doesn’t need a lot of labels to hold dramatic crossover appeal across the spectrum. In short, Pretty Awkward are pulling out the big guns in “Misfits” to get the world turned on by electric pop music once more, and while I can’t speak for all of the critics in my peer group, they’ve got my attention for sure.
Lyrically speaking, this is absolutely the most vulnerable piece of material that the band has stuck their moniker on since coming together and releasing a pair of singles in 2019 (“Higher” and “Dangerous Love,” both of which you should give a spin this month if you didn’t already last year). The guitars are frustratingly muted as if to be symbolic of emotions creeping to the surface only to be left unexpressed in the heat of an epic moment. The contrast between the smothering vocal harmony at the front of the mix and the controlled swing of the drums in the background mirrors the juxtaposition of tense afternoons and relaxing, carefree nights common when experiencing the growing pains of youth, and when we cross the finish line it feels more like we’ve heard a complete story than simply listened to a sweet new pop song. This is impressive content for such a young band, and a great way of making it known just how unique an act they can be.
Calculated compositionally but still quite warm and full of a rare vitality, Pretty Awkward’s “Misfits” is a fantastic third single and the best way unaware audiences are going to find out about what these guys are bringing to the table in 2020. Listening to this track has absolutely solidified their spot on my radar moving forward, and from where I sit, its success should be reason enough for the group to think about recording a ballad-centric album before the next year has expired.
They’ve got a lot of areas within their sound they’re not yet exploiting, but if provided a change of venue away from the home scene in Seattle, I think Pretty Awkward might find they’re ready to take on bigger and brighter things in this industry. In any case, I’ll be watching (and listening) for whatever comes next.
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