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Expansive psych, party bangers and walk on music, Pretty City talk us through their debut LP, Colorize

Colorize, the new record from Pretty City needs no introduction, but it may need some explanation. Luckily, Drew, the band’s drummer has taken the time to go deep into the making of every track.

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Colorize is an expansive journey into the mind of Pretty City and enters deep creative depths. To navigate our way through, we’ll need a little help.

Melt

Melt is a big expansive psych rock jam. The lyrics always reminded me of sunrise on the beach and having that moment when natural beauty overawes you to the point where the material world evaporates and simply melts away. But after playing this song with such lofty aesthetic sentiments in my head, I find out recently that Hugh was in fact referring to Eastland (a shopping complex in Melbourne).

To quote him, ‘all my songs are about Eastland, except for ‘Second Hand Clothes’ which is about Ringwood Savers, very near Eastland.’ He then later clarified that all the references to the “east” is because the future comes from that direction. I can’t believe anything he says anymore. I was always a huge champion of this song and it really caters to my love of epic rock and four on the floor disco beats.

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Running Around

The straight up party banger of the album. This song nearly didn’t make the album. It was really at the insistence of Hugh that we got in the studio again to lay it down. We didn’t really feel as confident with it, but as we played it in the studio it started to really capture all three of us, and that’s when Johnny came into his own with those catchy riffs.

The song seems like an energetic unselfconscious, playful run through the city streets. But the sentiment has a slightly sinister edge of being swept up in crowds and confronting those feelings of being pulled along by life rather than steering the ship. Still, at the end of the day, it’s one for the dancefloor, where going along with the crowd is bloody fun.

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Mary Go Round

This is one of the most broody tracks on the album and really expresses the sentiments of being stuck in a perpetually damaging cycle where you just keep butting your head against the same problems. I think we’ve all been in those relationships where we feel stuck and a bit powerless, suffering through the feelings of loss and loneliness while at the same time wanting to break free.

Musically the song really threatens to gallop away with that feeling, but we really tried to keep that sense of reticence of going forward in the song until right at the end where it kind of resolves. This song was probably the most difficult to pin down, and we tried it a bunch of different ways in the studio, including a really honky shuffle version of it, which we immediately burned and will never talk of again.

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Second Hand Clothes

This song is about Ringwood savers. But seriously, it’s about borrowed ideas and conformity. Just about how new ideas are just borrowed derivatives and artists fight to stand out but also to be part of a community. It’s that thing of the alternative becoming the mainstream. Once day you’re the only kid wearing a flower crown, next minute they’re selling them at Kmart.

We always joked it was about Hugh and Johnny’s wardrobes, and now reluctantly mine, being littered with op shop clothing. Again though, buried beneath the pleather jackets, faux fur coats, and ludicrous sun glasses, is a strong sentiment of a desire and an ambivalence to fit in: how we fit in with people, and how this sometimes leads to both immense satisfaction and feelings of total estrangement. It’s also about guitar solos, which we all truly believe in.

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Deft

This is really Hugh and our engineer Nik’s baby. Johnny and I had gone to bed after about 18 hours of continuous playing, and Hugh was stuffing around on the piano. I think the mixture of tiredness and studio mania was completely countered by this really peaceful moment on the piano. It was too enjoyable not to include.

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Part of Your Crowd

This is actually the first song we ever played together. It was this song that Hugh sent Johnny and me when he was first putting the band together. While it’s the oldest song on the album, it was a key feature of our live set for most of the band’s existence.

It’s changed a fair bit since that original demo, it’s got two guitar solos in it now, which is really representative of our pro-guitar solo stance. It’s a straight up disco/punk/rock/shoegaze tune that was everything that drew us to the band in the first place.

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Fun Machine

This and Melt are in constant competition for my favourite song of the album. It’s a bit longer and could probably be considered the journey track of the album. As the name suggests, it’s just so much fun to play. Something about that Manchester style beat mixed with epic rock sensibilities really appeals to me as a drummer/musician *cough.

As with so many of our songs, the tension really exists between the pretty elements and the more wistful elements. For this tune, the melody is really pretty, but the lyrics express that deep fear so many of us have that life is something we’re watching, and is just slipping by bit by bit. The epic swells and more aggressive moments are really the three of us kicking against that sentiment.

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Feel Colour

This song is the most aggressive song on the album and is probably up there with the heaviest song we play. Hugh once described it as Queens of the Stone Age sung in a church by little cherubs. It’s been with us a while this one, and was always going to be a feature of the album.

The chords in the chorus are really quite melancholy, which was us trying to strike a balance between the aggressive punk rock drums and lead guitar. I don’t think there is any deeper meaning behind Feel The Colour, we probably wanted to say ‘taste the rainbow’ but didn’t fancy getting sued. Also, this song has a guitar solo, so it’s one of my favourites.

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Leave it Alone

Full 90s stoner tune. This is definitely one of the darker songs on the album. We tried to make it as swirly and weird as we could sonically to counterbalance the straight up pop structure of the song. It’s got quite an industrial vibe in the pre-choruses that was really the brain child of Nik, but it accentuates the dark sentiments of the lyrics and chords.

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Feeding Frenzy

This is a reprise of Melt. It’s actually loops made out of different takes from Melt spliced with Hugh’s vocals. It turns around on itself in really interesting ways, it just changes ever so slightly with every pass, so no loop is repeated in the same way. This song has been making an appearance live as our walk on music. Walk on music is awesome, everyone should do it.

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Ignoring My Friends

This is another older track that absolutely had to be on the album, as it continues to be a feature of our live set. It’s a beautiful ballad about that moment in a new relationship where you just want to be with that one person, ignoring all others in the process. We’re not sure this is necessarily sound life advice, but it’s one of the sweet bi-products of luurve, and well worth a song. It’s a gentle and nice way to end the album which can be a bit intense.

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April 28, 2016