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Pretty & Nice, Blue & Blue 

Album Review

click to enlarge blue.jpg

(Self-released, CD)

When is it too soon to release a remix record? For Trent Reznor — a dude who drops remixes like Verizon drops calls — the answer is never. But what about unsigned indie acts such as Pretty & Nice, who have but one EP to their credit? Considering the feisty goodness found on their latest short-player, Blue & Blue, now is as fine a time as any.

Readers may recall the overwhelmingly positive review I gave of P&N’s debut, Pink & Blue. That effort provides the sonic springboard for several of these “new” numbers. But if it weren’t for the shared titles, you’d be hard pressed to recognize ’em. This is, of course, in keeping with remix tradition.

At this relatively early point in their career, Pretty & Nice are already one of the finest unsigned pop acts around. And who needs labels these days, anyway? Certainly not Reznor, who cut himself loose from his corporate overlords just last week. Of course, he has had the benefit of nearly two decades of industry support.

Give P&N a little time to catch up. Local music aficionados are already familiar with the band’s musical credentials, namely, energetic guitar-rock that sounds like Gang of Four and early Joe Jackson doing battle with a colossal Japanese robot. The rest of the world will catch their drift eventually. Insouciant, fidgety, and with pop chops to burn, P&N seem destined to leave a fresh welt on rock ’n’ roll’s well-scarred hide.

The disc opens with “Pretty Shells,” one of two brand-new, un-remixed cuts on the EP. Built on a scrunchy drumbeat, the song recalls electro-indie-rock alchemists Braniac, a little-known act that broke up due to the tragic death of its leader. P&N ably continue that band’s biomechanical approach to pop, with catchy falsetto vocals and shock-the-system guitar action.

“Grab Your Nets” is another new one, with a killer speed-surf intro and a Buzzcocks-worthy chorus. From there, the EP drops into remix mode, with a shuddering take on “Gramophone,” a song I’d previously likened to something from the Dischord Records canon. Well, that’s hardly the case now, as this version sounds like a swinger’s resort on the moon.

“Fortress” is retrofitted with a club-ready bass line and disco handclaps. If the intro seems silly, wait until the part where an indistinguishable vocal sample rapidly ping-pongs from speaker to speaker. I think I actually LOL’d, as the kids might say.

Also transmogrified is “Speedboats,” which is reborn as a dub-house confection, while Pink & Blue standout “Research & Development” is given the glitch treatment. They managed to preserve the song’s sinuous guitar lines, however, which lend stateliness to the digital fuckery.

Blue & Blue may “only” be a remix EP, but it requires no justification beyond its own excellence. My sole complaint is that now I want more.

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