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Ethan Gold “Pretty Girls”

Ethan Gold is one of the more inventive singer/songwriters active in his scene today, and in the song “Pretty Girls,” I think his creative whims are showcased in their most melodic state thus far. The music video for the track is made to exemplify the eclecticism of his artistry in general, but in terms of credibility, its source material highlights a composer in Gold unafraid to embrace old school melodic tendencies with a hearty dose of sonic experimentation where we’re least expecting to find it. There’s a cerebral element to his sound that you can’t get away from, and it’s taking center stage here. 


I love the dark tone to Gold’s vocal delivery in this single, and although he isn’t giving us much more than a casual croon, his singing is probably the sharpest and most decadent component of the harmony in “Pretty Girls.” The guitar is equally understated, and the percussive swing produced to feel like more of an afterthought than a centerpiece, allowing for his voice to feel like the brittle lynchpin it is whether he’s in the studio or playing on stage. The intimacy of a live show is present in this recording, which isn’t the case with most of the pop I’ve been listening to out of the mainstream lately. 

The smooth backdrop these verses are afforded lives and dies by the elegance of the beat, and I would go so far as to credit the string play with forming more of a solid groove than the drums do. There’s something to be said about the strutting of the percussion in the background, but without the hesitant striking of the strings, I don’t know that Ethan Gold’s soft singing would feel like the beacon of consistency it is in this specific scenario. He knows how to set a mood, and that’s very obvious in “Pretty Girls.” 

These lyrics would likely take on a totally different feel beside a different instrumental arrangement than the one Gold is utilizing in this performance, and I appreciate the detail he clearly put into making the easy-swaying verses complement the structure of the harmony – and vice-versa, for that matter. He’s thinking about this composition from a multidimensional perspective, and instead of this resulting in a lot of overthinking and unnecessarily ambitious frills, it’s resulting in what could be one of the most emotional and efficiently constructed works I’ve listened to from an indie pop player this year. 

Ethan Gold continues to really impress beyond the expectations of critics everywhere – myself included – with this release of “Pretty Girls,” and while I’ve been a fan of his work for the better part of the last few years, the new video for this track is one of the more enrapturing releases I’ve seen bearing his moniker so far. His skillset is undeniably strong, but what he’s doing with it in “Pretty Girls” is both more colorful and unsurprisingly more sophisticated than what the status quo in contemporary pop music can withstand (or produce) in 2021. 

Mindy McCall



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