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July 23, 2024

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Pretty Mighty Mighty
Normal (Derailleur Records)

By: Vinnie Apicella

And what would we classify as "normal" these days anyway? Naturally, "Normal" comes away as anything but, as if by design, yet that'd be a little too obvious for the listener, let alone first timer. I'd have liked to see some lyrics to go with the song instead of just a widespread close up of the mixing console but such is the life of a struggling Indie-goer, scratching and clawing for every dime, an inch or two away from the great make over before peering further down the empty enclave of social misnomers that broke big and fell apart. Pretty Mighty Mighty's been doing their thing for a long time, some thirteen years, and if there's one thing to be said for this record, they've probably afforded themselves the chance to release another one. And if there'll be something else to say, I don't think I've ever heard anything quite like this. It's like the black spot on the sun of an otherwise radiant Pop shine; the rugged undercurrent lurking beneath clear blue waters; the freshly painted hit single that's gotten a last minute key scratch, successfully pulling the carpet from under leaving otherwise bored program directors two faced and biting fingers over whether to or not and subsequently losing last minute nerve, opting instead for C and G chords and vocal harmonies to please the masses. "Normal" is a seven track EP that's easy to consume for the 20 or so minute overall length of three and change intervals that come away like curvy bends obscured by brush and dark paths. I can hear several bands going at once and yet hear nothing I can readily distribute for comparison -- yet "Hey Mercedes" comes to mind, though I'd bet against any note for note parallels at work. "Ten Minutes" is the first and likely worst of the bunch in that it sets a lethargic tone that twice over, did me in, but if nothing else, gave stronger depth to the followers -- highlighted by the emotional swoon and swell of "Sleepless," "Blackjack Master" and of course, "Waves," where dread and drone continue to play kid games with catchy rhythms of lowly tuned and echo-less guitar licks and harmonic intrusions, boosted, occasionally by violent bouts of reverb, and ironically, melancholic bow strikes and bass beats to carefully accompany Jon Chinn's smothered when not, "Sleepless," singing voice. Overall, there are effectual moments to peek behind the cloud cover and reveal an ambitious means to escape the doldrums of a moody, emotive, and seemingly effortless run for this Rock and Roll sigh of a record that remains relaxed beneath the surface of Pop precept. So save for a too often tranquil guitar vibe and repetitive riff pattern that lingers a little too long after the point's been made, "Normal's" actually a densely eclectic masterpiece the second or third go round.
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