Penny Black Music has reviewed The Pretty Things – The Sweet Pretty Things (Are In Bed Now, Of Course…)
The Pretty Things received critical acclaim for their recently released box set ‘Bouquets from a Cloudy Sky’, and in the blink of an eye returned with a ten-track CD of tragically beautiful originals entitled ‘The Sweet Pretty Things (Are in Bed Now of Course…)’
It is their first new album in seven years, but it was worth the wait. If you heard ‘Bouquets’ you’ve caught up on the splendour and craft that this British band has been so quick to deliver, but this album captures some personal and collaborative touches that you might have missed in their former incarnation.
‘The Same Sun’ begins with the fierce bass line, followed by an incredible wall of sound—lush harmonies and subtle ambience. Vocalist Phil Mays croons, “Out in the streets/The people are moving.” The template has been set. The following gusts of movement are balanced with shimmering electric guitar solos.
Jack Greenwood jumpstarts ‘And I Do’ with his signature rebellious percussion. The very ‘60’s riffs fall into place. Dick Taylor’s electric leads are intoxicating, and May’s direct and searing approach to singing casts a super sized spell.
The initial bars of ‘Renaissance Fair’ are also heart stopping. “I think that maybe I’m dreaming,” May sings, turning the mood more mellow. Rising and falling harmonies tie together the sonic bits.
“You captured my poor heart/I’m helpless for you,” May moans. ‘You Took Me By Surprise’ launches the lead singer into a prison of frailty. May holds his own against some spectacular riffing. His imagination unfolds in each cadence, as he admits that love has set him adrift.
‘Turn My Head’ is a confluence of scathing guitar and demonstrative vocals, a spot-on collaboration. Clever modulations interface with crisp solo work. Guitarists Dick Taylor and Frank Holland are maestros at their respective axes.
George Woosey’s forceful bass and Jack Greenwood’s subtle yet potent percussion presence underscore ‘Dark Days’. “Tears flow and they inundate me,” sings a devastated May, as he builds bitter sweetly.
‘Greenwood Tree’ is a perfect example of working together. The members employ a striking interplay. From the stoner rock intro. to Greenwood’s drenching drum solo, which he lavishly pours himself into, is mixed so cleanly that you can feel the sticks tremble.
‘Here, There and Nowhere’ is the second of two successful acoustic renderings, brimming with harmonies and attitude.
Greenwood heads off stunner, ‘In the South’ with the greatest of enthusiasm. ‘Dirty Song’ is the second of the acoustic pairing. “As the sun presses up against the windows,” May intones, before sharing some scatological, intimate flashbacks. “The rooms seems so chaotic,” his grainy voice adds. The racy lyrics are laced around a gorgeous, mind numbing, face melting drone. Phil May definitely reigns, but the song evokes a Monster Magnet memory.
May experienced a health scare last year, but you’d never know that from his brilliant and fearless performance here. Plus, he created the colourful, dreamy figure on the cover and matching photo book; both accomplishments suggest that he has had a successful recovery, with more great music to come.
It’s hard to believe that a band that’s been around for half a century can still sound so contemporary, especially using vintage studio gear, but the proof is in the dazzling, yet earthy production, and the conviction erupts from each of the inventive players in the Pretty Things.
‘The Sweet Pretty Things’ is the not-to-be-missed surprise of the year.