The Pretty Littles showcase their musical growth on their not-so-soft, thrashy LP, Soft Rock For The Anxious

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After six years of banging, slapping, shredding and yelling their way through Melbourne’s garage scene, The Pretty Littles have reached the next stop on their journey towards “making music that doesn’t make them cringe.”

The Pretty Littles

The not-so-soft Soft Rock For The Anxious from The Pretty Littles persists with thrashy guitars, turbulent riffs, anxiety-ridden love songs and cultural criticisms of right-wing Aussie media. And it’s gold.

While still chaotic in a sense, the Pretty Littles seem decades away from the jarring, downward-spiraling sonics of their 2011 EP Fairweather, recorded when they were fresh uni students and sounding like it: messy, cocky and carefree.

They’ve stuck to their larrikinism (when singer Jack Parsons was asked to describe the band in one word he said “eggplant” saying it had a real “aubergine vibe”), but have definitely grown up a lot in the last few years. They’re moving away from their usually sporadic style of recording, becoming more focused on what they want to say as a band.

Soda Pop is fuelled with fast-paced and heavily distorted vocals, while Not Good (Okay) contains uplifting, energetic and catchy proclamation “I was not good! I am okay!” and “this is the place I wanna be!” It’s an addictive track that’ll make for a great shout-along-while-holding-hands-with-your-friends-at-shows kind of song.

In Sleeping In Water, Parsons part shouts part sings his romantic anxieties “Do you love me or are you just lazy, do you need me or is this just easy,” and it’s hard not to feel anxious alongside him.

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By the time Disco rolls around repetitive grind of the band’s lo-fi leanings start to become a little stale, threatening a bit of an unimaginative anti-climax from the albums roaring start; if it weren’t for the saving grace of last two tracks Sam’s Mob and Overwhelmed that is.

Sam’s Mob follows the likes of The Smith Street Band’s political stab at Tony Abbott on Wipe That Shit-Eating Grin Off Your Punchable Face, with an intelligent dig at AFL’s big-boy bro-culture. Lyrics like “Sam’s mob’s laughing the loudest…screaming what about us, what about me,” confront Eddie McGuire and The Footy Show’s Sam Newman’s degrading and self-centred remarks, most pertinently about sports journalist Caroline Wilson.

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Winding up with a gentle-to-highly-energetic build that feels like something a littlele similar to post-rock instrumentalist’s Sleepmakeswaves, Overwhelmed’s reflective baritone vocals uphold the album’s melancholic undertones, fading out on the wistful refrain of “everybody breaks the same.”

There’s definite baggage here from start to finish, but The Pretty Littles use their brand of anxious soft rock to cope. And ain’t that a great way to do it?

Soft Rock for the Anxious is out September 9 via Caroline Australia, and you catch The Pretty Littles shredding at these shows in October:

Saturday 22nd October – Kennedys Creek Music Festival, VIC

Friday 28th October – Karova Lounge, Ballarat, VIC

Saturday 29th October – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, VIC

Thursday 3rd November – Rad Bar, Wollongong, NSW

Friday 4th November – Moonshine, Manly, NSW

Saturday 5th November – Brighton Up Bar, Sydney, NSW

Friday 11th November – Cats @ Rocket Bar, Adelaide, SA

Saturday 12th November –The Loft, Warrnambool, VIC

Friday 18th November – The Northern, Byron Bay, NSW

Saturday 19th November – The Bearded Lady, Brisbane, QLD