PRETTY AWKWARD Delivers Fresh Alt.Pop Sounds With Debut Full Length Album “Get Weird”

PRETTY AWKWARD’s Get Weird is a career-defining moment for this Northwest band. The Austin Held and Nicholas Wiggins-led outfit concocted eleven imaginative compositions for this release spanning the gamut from rock, hip-hop, EDM, and pop. They often mix and match those styles synthesizing them into a cohesive whole where the sum is greater than its individual parts. It is a release thoroughly grounded in the now rather than tethering itself to the past, but their musical acumen is such that a tight grip on fundamentals underpins every track. Get Weird doesn’t set the bar impossibly high for the unit, but nonetheless catapults them to standing among the vanguard of modern popular music. Labels such as “indie” do not suffice to describe PRETTY AWKWARD’s music.

The hypnotic and effects-heavy guitar figure opening “Hang Out” sets a powerful stage for what follows. Held’s rhythmic and melodic vocal phrasing provides a sharp juxtaposition to the music that lulls listeners into an easy groove. The song makes its deepest impact through accumulation. Drums come in and we’re soon dealing with a fully fleshed-out band performance that sustains its bounce through the end.

The anthemic pop of “Misfits” reaches its pinnacle with the chorus, but the verses aren’t too shabby either. It’s a song long on compelling dynamics and PRETTY AWKWARD never wastes a single note along the way. A major part of the band’s appeal, as well, is Held’s vocals. They may take some getting used for some listeners, but you’ll look forward to each new song once you are accustomed to his distinctive tone.

Hip-hop influences make their presence felt during the title song and meld with the same pop instincts that make “Misfits” so memorable. It has a light touch in PRETTY AWKWARD’s hands. There’s never any of the relentless bass-driven thud common to certain subsets of hip-hop but, instead, a fleet-footed rhythmic dance that inspires joy. “Castle Walls” is another number in the band’s unique twist on anthemic traditions. It’s much more orchestrated than its similar counterparts on the release, though never calculated. Attentive listeners will discern a general template that PRETTY AWKWARD follows for such tracks, but it never smacks of formula.

The album single “Woozy” boasts one of Get Weird’s strongest chorus hooks. It’s also one of the most across-the-board relatable songs included in the collection as its semi-comic portrayal of a toxic relationship that the singer can’t quite escape will connect with many listeners. Keyboards and chiming guitars are bedrock musical elements of “Bored” and their penchant for anthemic tunes peaks yet again with this track. It has a keen sense of dynamics, as it wavers between dramatic big-screen refrains and muted, low-key passages.

PRETTY AWKWARD is built to last. There’s impressive flexibility in the construction of these songs; Held, Wiggins, and company can continue milking endless variations for countless upcoming albums. They have an approach that will remain fresh for releases to come. Get Weird sparkles with a wholehearted embrace of musical adventure and the joy of its creation is audible in every song.

Chadwick Easton

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