You would have had to have been living under a pretty big rock these past five years or so not to have heard the name Pretty Vicious mentioned in music circles. The Merthyr four-piece were hailed as the “next Oasis” by many websites/magazines and inked a silly money major label deal after what was literally just a handful of gigs.
Whilst a few of my close mates experienced that early buzz first-hand and rejoiced in seeing a local band once again looking set to make it big I deliberately stayed away purely because with a band as young as Pretty Vicious (they were all in their mid-teens when signing their initial deal) it all felt a touch too voyeuristic, and you only have to look at what subsequently happened to The Strypes to see how badly it can all go for a young band if they don’t shift the units their label wants them to.
So here we are in 2019 and now devoid of that original record deal with Virgin /EMI Pretty Vicious currently find themselves doing low key interviews to promote ‘Beauty Of Youth’ minus their singer as he has had to step away from the spotlight due to a personal tragedy that almost cost him his sanity. Their long-awaited debut is now being released through Big Machine Records a label based in Nashville that normally specialises in Country music so with all this going on this just suddenly felt like the right point in time for me to fully experience what Pretty Vicious are all about.
Granted it’s not exactly my first time hearing the band as I did dip my toe in the water with some of their early singles and whilst they were okay they didn’t exactly blow me away either, so what ‘Beauty of Youth’ is is my first chance to sit down and fully immerse myself in the band’s sound, a sound that has now had 5 whole years to develop and mature.
Well, the “next Oasis” label afforded Pretty Vicious early doors I can certainly pick up on during opener ‘These Four Walls’ and there’s more than one occasion during the album’s dozen tracks that I get the sense that the pressure must have really been on the young lads to write arena-filling tunes at all costs. ‘No One Understands’ for example certainly has that early Stereophonics Valleys lad bowl (as in strut) about it, whilst album closer ‘Little Molly’ is the anthemic lighters (or should I say phones) in the air tune that all albums of this ilk see as mandatory. BUT and this is a huge BUT its when Pretty Vicious break out of musical trappings of what is expected of them that they truly shine, in particular, singer Brad Griffiths who sounds not unlike a curious hybrid of Axl Rose and 70s Ozzy Osbourne during tracks like ‘Are You Entertained?’ and the brilliant ‘Someone Like You’. Indie music this most definitely is not folks, and the production from Dan Austin (You Me At Six, Twin Atlantic, Pulled Apart By Horses) certainly helps the boys push the attitude (and guitars) to the fore.
Elsewhere ‘Something Worthwhile’ kind of reminds me of 90s rockers Cast albeit with a turbo booster shoved up their arses, ‘Move’ has an almost Gary Holton goes grunge feel to it and the back to back pairing of ‘Force Of Nature’ (Oasis drum fill in the intro aside) and ‘Lost In Lust’ could very easily be Smashing Pumpkins at their very peak.
With all that is going on musically in the dozen songs that make up ‘Beauty Of Youth’ the future should really be looking bright for Pretty Vicious, but with Brad side-lined and dealing with his personal demons I applaud his bandmates for sticking by him as there is no way success should come before a mate’s own wellbeing. “It’s just a game” after all, as Brad sings during ‘Playing With Guns’. I just hope he gets himself sorted and that the band can then fully capitalise on this absolute stonker of a debut album. In their own time though as they still have the real beauty of youth very much on their side.
Buy ‘Beauty Of Youth’ Here