Pretty Things

Balboa Island - Cote Basque - CBCD07001 - 2007

Tracks: 1. Beat Goes On / 2. Livin' in My Skin / 3. Buried Alive / 4. (Blues For) Robert Johnson / 5. Mimi / 6. Pretty Beat / 7. Ballad of Hollis Brown / 8. In the Beginning / 9. Feel Like Goin' Home / 10. Freedom Song / 11. Dearly Beloved / 12. All Light Up / 13. Balboa Island


Although the Pretty Things' latest album "Balboa Island" was recorded over a much shorter period than the previous "Rage Before Beauty" it actually comes out slightly less homogeneous.

The numbers fluctuate a lot in genre from clean blues, over gospel, heavy-rock to classic 1960s rock. The songwriting is when it's best really great, but there are some tracks that may not be that interesting in length. Vocally album also seems a little uneven. On some tracks it can be difficult to recognize Phil May's voice, which is perhaps the group's main brand.

The album's first three tracks show the group from its hard-hitting hand - in fact it is on these tracks that you can be in doubt that it is May's voice you hear. The numbers are okay, but nothing more. The long half acoustic and somewhat monotonous "Robert Johnson" is pure classic blues. A rather lengthy case, many will probably think.

It is first at the unpretentious "Pretty Beat" I really think I recognize the group and not least May's voice. Absolutely one of the best track on the album. Then comes "In the Beginning", a melodic blues that is both moving and has the classic Pretty Things sound - with a little unexpected female choir.

The Bo Diddley-inspired "Mimi" could almost have been generated from the band's first album - not much studio finesse to find here - not meant as a negative comment!! "Feel Like Going Home" could almost be taken from Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac - with Jeremy Spencer.

The very simple early Bob Dylan song "Hollis Brown" is in spite of its six and a half minutes never boring and is another of the strongest tracks of the album. A version of the song that should make Dylan proud. "Freedom Song" is a gospel-blues - a number that may appear as a sort of evaluation of a long life on the go. Nice vocal performance.

Very surprisingly, follows the Badfinger-inspired "Dearly Beloved" - one of the most melodic songs the group has recorded and also one of the major highlights of the album - even though May's vocals may well seem a little worn at certain places. "All Light Up" with some controversial lyrics - comes from a maxi-single released already in 1999. 1960-70-sound - very retro.

The almost folk-like title track finishes a solid - at places great - album and the group shows that it is still worth listening to and that they have much more to offer.

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