Melbourne’s Tom Prettys are a love story for the modern age of music. Being in a band is pretty much like being in a relationship; the cute awkwardness when you first meet, sussing out what you like – and what you don’t like.
You’ll probably spend a lot of time in dark rooms getting sweaty – they are what you do on weekends. You’ll fight and you’ll get sick of each other. And at some point you may wish to see a therapist (if it’s good enough for Metallica…).
The Tom Prettys are the result of a three-way blind date after chatting on Facebook. All their members are still alive, and they’ve even managed to smash out a single.
It’s also not uncommon to meet online these days, which is how the Tom Prettys came into being. Sadly not a musically inclined misunderstanding of the site eHarmony, drummer Jeri Karmelic and guitarist Pete Lykouras connected via a Facebook group.
Having agreed to meet, Karmelic brought along vocalist Matt Steyn as protection against potential dangerous predators. Happily Lykouras was neither groomer nor ghoster, and the Tom Prettys were formed. They acquired a second guitarist, Tom Graham, shortly after.
This all took place in late 2015, and over the last twelve months the band have honed both their writing and their live performance skills. This week brings the debut single Shelf Life.
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The track comes ahead of the band’s anticipated double single release this October. A brooding, thrashed out piece of post-punk, Shelf Life is an assured entry from the band. It also happens to flesh out this relationship metaphor pretty nicely;
“The track is about putting effort into relationships, giving them energy and concern for no other reason than that’s what you’re used to doing”, says vocalist Matt Steyn.
“That type of relationship really creates a sort of long-term emotional insomnia where you’re never truly at peace and it’s incredibly hard to break out of; it’s very cyclical.”
Lo-fi guitar work sets a thoughtful mood for Shelf Life, also for Steyn’s pensive vocals. The band channels Morrissey through resonant, deep tones – but with a bit more bite, and less of the overgrown choirboy.
DIY percussion, splashy cymbal work and riffs that lean heavily on the punk side carry the infectious chorus and round out the sound on the track. Pick Shelf Life apart and the sum of its parts is impressively bigger than the promise of each component.
Recorded during the winter months of 2016, the Tom Prettys worked with legendary producer/engineer Neil Gray (Vasco Era, Little Red) for the track. Particularly showcasing the band’s songwriting, Shelf Life really is a well crafted debut.
Lo-fi, minimal and raw it definitely is, but none of this detracts from the very tangible sophistication across the track.
This is not an experimental record, in the sense that there is real purpose behind Shelf Life. This doesn’t feel like a band who have just walked out of their first recording experience, it has far more definition and solidity to it.
In their own words, the Tom Prettys bring you the“Fleetwood Mac of Post-Punk”. The Mac pretty much epitomise a difficult band relationship, so let’s hope the analogy applies to just their music.
Shelf Life is a truly impressive debut from the Tom Prettys, and promises a lot more from the Melbourne quartet.
Any problems, see Dr Phil.