The Seattle quintet's follow-up to the universally acclaimed "The New Romance", and their first album since the addition of keyboardist Leona Marrs, is by far their most ambitious, multifarious, and scorching to date. Produced by Colin Stewart (Black Mountain, Destroyer), "Elan Vital" provides the band with a bigger, bolder canvas with which to weave their magic. The new material, road-tested at gigs around the globe with Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, and Death Cab For Cutie, shows a blindingly original American band who are improving with each successive album. Matador. 2006.
Weeks on the road with the likes of Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party certainly made an impression this Seattle quintet. On the follow-up to 2003's The New Romance
, Pretty Girls Make Graves edge away from scratchy indie rock and embrace a more svelte, early '80s inspired post-punk sound. Much of it has to do with the addition of keyboardist Leona Marrs, whose economical melodies put electronics and retro dance grooves at the fore. Tracks like "Pyrite Pedestal" and "Domino" point the way forward, coming across like a hybrid of The Slits and The Fall. But the experimentation doesn't end there. Tracks like prog-ish "The Magic Hour" and punky-reggae "Selling the Wind" pull the band in more directions than it can always handle. Nobody said growing up is easy. --Aidin Vaziri