Song of the Day

Pretty Matty, “You're Not There” (2020)

Toronto’s Pretty Matty seems, in all likelihood, to have been genetically engineered for my enjoyment.

The project-- the brainchild of Matty Morand, who some may recognize from their time spent in acts like Lychi, Self Defense Family, ATTENTION!, No Hands, and Trout-- ostensibly plays textbook power-pop, albeit with a blinkered, neurotic edge that recalls both the diffident optimism of early Green Day songs like “80” as well as the addictively acidic wit of No Pocky for Kitty-era Superchunk.

Attentive listeners will notice a brittle edge to Pretty Matty’s energy, which is symptomatic of Morand’s long relationship with hardcore (last year, the project released a collaborative record with Ian Shelton of Regional Justice Center, who has written about Pretty Matty for No Echo in the past). 

The latest Pretty Matty offering is a spiky, quirky piece of pop songwriting called “You’re Not There.”

Morand’s nasally voice drips with contempt for the song’s subject, which serves the relatively simplistic vocal melody during the song’s climax rather well; the song as a whole is ambiguous as to whether it is about a former friend or a love interest, but either way, it’s clear that Morand has a bone to pick, with acrid lines like “Keep me around til you feel better” and “You act so tough until you start to feel the pressure” acting as indicators of a codependent relationship awash in sticky and insecure dynamics.

Musically, the song is deceptively simplistic, revolving around a bouncy chord progression that sounds positively Buzzcocksian in its directness and immediacy.

The recording is in higher fidelity than past Pretty Matty outings, pushing their vocals to the top of the mix and heightening their clarity, but also finding plenty of room for fuzzy, staticky guitar fills, which flesh out the driving main melody and add bucketloads of nuance and charisma to the proceedings. 

“You’re Not There” is a short song-- barely hitting the two-minute mark-- but it makes its point quickly and cleanly, and whets the listener’s appetite for more. If you’ve already heard previous Pretty Matty records, this is another step up in terms of songwriting, even more concise, focused, and full of wormy melodies than the already-impressive power pop clinics they’ve produced so far.

If you haven’t heard Pretty Matty before, this is as good a place as any to start, as its digestible length and crunchy accessibility is an excellent entry point to the defiantly unique and clever pop sensibilities of the project.

“You’re Not There” also serves as both the closing of a previous chapter and the opening of a new one for Pretty Matty, as this is the last single that will be released before they head into the studio to record a full-length LP.

If “You’re Not There” is indicative of the quality we should be expecting, it’ll be one very much worth looking out for.

Tagged: pretty matty

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