Album Review: Prettiest Eyes – Vol. 3

Like its predecessor Pools this is another driving, bass-heavy slice of angst from LA 3-piece Prettiest Eyes who are Pachy García (vocals & drums), Paco Casanova (Keyboards, Electronics & Vocals) and Marcos Rodríguez (Bass & Vocals). Pools made me feel something akin to falling into a noise-generating whirlpool or being strapped to a car made of speakers hurtling into to a dimly lit tunnel. Volume 3 could be described as more mellow but only if you consider sandpaper to be less abrasive than broken glass.

The opening two tracks feel like a dystopian B-52’s but there’s no kitsch fun to be had here. ‘Johnny Come Home’ starts with a pumping bass line, high-pitched radar-like squeals, skittering, nervous reverbed guitar and slight distortion on the vocals. This is 2 minutes 36 seconds that gets the blood pumping and sharpens the taste buds for the acid-sweetness of their music. This slides straight into ‘It Costs to be Austere’ with its Joe 90 bassline and landmine keyboard stabs and swoops going off under the song’s title as a repeated phrase throughout.

After raising the angst level to mild panic ‘I Don’t Know’ seems almost languid; like a leftfield ‘Shakin’ All Over’ by Johnny Kid & The Pirates. The bass holds true, like an immovable handrail, allowing you to pull yourself through the nightmarish haunted Hammond keyboard sound and a mid-section that throws you into void space full of echoed vocals. ‘Mr President’ feels like one of those dreams in which you’re trying to run but your legs are too heavy. I couldn’t quite make out the words (and couldn’t find any published lyrics online) but if they are singing about the orange incumbent then I doubt they’re complimentary. ‘Nekrodisco’ shocks you awake with klaxon synth and drums and bass which helter and skelter at 160bpm. Before you can catch your breath ‘The Shame’ is a runaway truck slamming ‘Nekrodisco’ out of the way; a 190bpm out and out industrial punk thrill-ride.

As with ‘I Don’t Know’ the pulse is slowed by ‘Another Earth’’s roaming bass line, stuttering percussion and echoey reverb-drenched vocals. There are some sweet harmonies over this shuddering Black Mass landscape and I also got a hit of Mark Stewart and the Maffia / On-U Sound System. This is a song ripe for being remixed as a full on dub track. Despite ‘Marihuana’ opening like machine gun fire over heavy road works it has at its core a rolling Fumaça Preta-like vibe. ‘Summer in LA’ is not a summer of beaches and donkey rides – this feels like a summer of boiling hot pavements, simmering civil unrest and feedback. The song’s sudden end sounds like it has been sucked into the ground, morphing into ‘No More Summer’ with a thin thread of drum machine running through one of the catchiest tunes on the album.

‘Strange Distance’ and ‘La Maldad’ close out Volume 3 as perfect examples of the bi-polar nature of this album. ‘Strange Distance’ offers pinging sonar sounds and grinding guitar effects; creating the image of a submarine running on silent trying to evade the enemy, whereas ‘La Maldad’ (The Evil) is a towering Kraken of lashing drums, wailing organ and coruscating guitar effects with a beguiling riff that rises above the cacophony (this track is surely a set closer).

Volume 3 reminded me of the scene in Marathon Man where Laurence Olivier’s ‘Weiße Engel’ dentist is torturing Dustin Hoffman’s character Babe. Prettiest Eyes drill at the nerve until you think you can’t take anymore and then apply the oil of cloves. They attack with sonic assault and battery and then allow you a glimpse of blue sky through raining blows. As I have said before three piece bands have an innate strength that comes from the tension in having to rely on each other and the sparsity that comes from not having too many instruments. Being inside this album is like running around Escher’s ‘Relativity’ drawing never quite knowing which way up you are and it’s an intoxicating feeling that makes me eager to see them live.

Review by Paul F Cook

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