Is it even possible that this is the same Seattle band who so nicely put a little twist on the Lookout! Records’ pop-punk formula when they debuted way back in ’02 with a woman up front? Well, not quite: they’ve added a keyboardist (Leonna Marrs) and, having moved over to Matador a few years ago, caught the art-damaged, post-punk bug. Elan Vital opens with a strange, dubby experiment (“The Nocturnal House”) that buries Andrea Zollo’s usually prominent, alluring vocals under a ton of reverbed guitar noise, busy blasts from the rhythm section, and what sounds like an off-key melodica. Zollo used to be plagued by unfair comparisons to riot grrrls like Kathleen Hanna and Sleater-Kinney — she’s more a sweet-voiced singer with attitude than a screamer. You get the feeling that Zollo, who can scream if she has to, is about to be haunted by a more apt analogue in Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ vixen Karen O. Sharp, spiky guitars, quirky arrangements, and sideways hooks dominate Elan Vital, an album peppered with occasional piano lines, electronic synth blips, background harmonies, and even some off-kilter horns. The settings have changed, but Zollo seems up to the challenge of what’s become a much more challenging Pretty Girls Make Graves.
NEW AND IMPROVED: Pretty Girls Make Graves have caught the art-damaged, post-punk bug.
Pretty Girls Make Graves + Giant Drag + Joggers | May 11 | Middle East downstairs, 480 Mass Ave, Cambridge | 617.864.EAST
On the Web
Pretty Girls Make Graves: http://www.prettygirlsmakegraves.com/