Pretty Girls Make Graves

James McDonald 04/04/2006

Since the release of their second full-length, "The New Romance", Pretty Girls Make Graves have had a fairly turbulent time; with the departure of one guitarist being nullified by the introduction of a new face, on keyboard. Inevitably such changes in a band's line-up and, periodically, chemistry, are going to result in a “new direction”; and tonight a packed jazz bar in the heart of London would be the first to sample this change.

That is, of course, assuming no one had gotten around to buying the new LP “Elan Vital”, which was released yesterday, on long-serving Matador Records. However, this did indeed seem to be the case, as the band opened with their first new tune of the night, “Nocturnal”, which was met with interested and at tentative faces in the audience.

However, it was the old classics such as “Chemical, Chemical” and “The Grandmother Wolf” which sparked the crowd into gear, despite their jaded delivery. And brownie points to tonight's headliners for pulling every trick in the book; guitarists playing drums, singers playing accordions, and even the odd injection of sax, but this veil of showmanship was unable to cover the fact that something was lacking from the overall performance.

Tonight we saw a band in transaction- the set was an awkward mix of what was, and what's to be, and unfortunately neither seemed to be a comfortable fit. PGMG have salvaged what they can from the wreck of losing such an integral member, by adapting songs to a single guitar, but nervous glances were share on stage when the crowd screamed for an encore. Couple this with the fact it looked like the band were relative strangers (cue wrong notes and dropped maracas aplenty) and there was definite cause for concern.

Despite these problems, I was very impressed (and somewhat relieved) by how the new material sounded, however time will tell whether Pretty Girls Make Graves can recover from damage caused by the last year. The early sings weren't promising.