Saturday, February 27, 2016

First Listen: Nightgown - "Pretty (fucked up)" - Is Just That -- Artful Punk Prose Out Of L.A.


"Pretty (fucked up)" by Nightgown is instantly incredibly captivating. The huge drum sound signaled in my brain that some heavy post rock thing was about to happen with a bottom less pit bass line and rock guitars but then that didn't happen. Instead the guitar sound and rhythm feels more like the indie vagabond punk of The Babies but much dirtier. The surprise is refreshing. I am loving this.

Then another twist. While the aforementioned The Babies or more specifically, Kevin Morby's lyrical aesthetic leans heavy toward the wanderlust side of things, Nightgown and more specifically, Laurel Noone, lyrically leans more toward the lusty side of things (at least on this track). And when I say lust, not in a sexual sort of way but a lust for retribution, for perverse satisfaction and maybe for self destructive desires.

When Laurel starts singing (in double) about finding a dead animal in a yard that was killed by a dog and then "they" proceed to take a stick and poke it's eyes out it is disturbing. The double singing conjures up two misanthropic if not psychotic twins as the totally celebratory chorus "We fucked it up.... We fucked it up" twists in the wind. I also thought of the "we" being the two voices in her head. The song goes on as Laurel sings about school girl bullies when she was 10, exacting revenge on one of them and fucking up a relationship too. Embedded in all of this is an absolutely killer lead guitar that kind of mirrors the chorus melody and strays off into other very cool sounds. Near the end of the song Laurel sings that "this could of been a pretty song" and while this track has all the hallmarks of a anti-social punk anthem, it is pretty in it's own right too.

As an introduction to Nightgown, "Pretty (fucked up)"is a kind of mind bending stunning little song. Like any kind of art that seeks to challenge (and it does that) it is very smart in how it pulls of it's own passion play. The stories contained in the song while stewing in their own morale vacuum of reacting the wrong way at every turn still makes you feel gleeful as the chorus wraps around you. It's like you want to partake in the revenge Kool-aid or, at least, the idea of it. Even when you fuck something up, a relationship, a potential job, whatever.... there is a high associated with it. It is about lack of control or the the decision to lose control, to abandon control and give into the chaos that can feel so freeing. Like any kind of fiction, whether it be literature or cinema or a punk song it can be healthy to (within that realm) fuck things up and Nightgown does just that on this track. Kudos to Laurel for her vocal performance that feels like a truly inspired acting role. She throws herself into the fray so well.

Now as this is my first listen to Nightgown, my sense is that this artful disturbia they present is just that and in this way this song reminds me of The Pixies. The poetry meets literature meets social commentary stuffed into songs that Black Francis so creatively mined became his own kind of punk prose. I look forward to finding out if this is the case with Laurel and Nightgown and am excited to hear more from this Los Angeles band.

I truly love this song.
Robb Donker

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