When Pretty Happy opened for Pavement in Dublin last November, they fit perfectly on that Vicar Street stage. The art-punk trio probably weren’t too overawed anyway, considering they also toured with Kim Gordon this year.
Illustrious names like that offer an indication of their alt-rock bonafides; those credentials are all but solidified on Echo Boy. While only four-tracks, it realises much of the promise shown by early singles like Salami. Connections with Gordon and Malkmus are oddly appropriate, as the songs marry the throbbing riffs of Sonic Youth with the witty absurdism of Pavement’s lyrics. Pretty Happy, of course, still emerge fully formed with a wholly unique identity by Echo Boy’s end.
Their mellifluous Munster brogues and Rebel County colloquialisms set them apart from the pack. On the barnstormer Boots, in which our singer appears to be having a discomfiting smoking area encounter with a man “as big as a tree”, the ferocious screech of the guitar unnerves us along with the narrator. Husband bursts out the gate as if to reanimate The Dead Kennedys before morphing into ominous, grungier territory which complements the story of a wife in denial about her partner and the life he gave her. It’s here where the vocal contortions of already-accomplished bassist Arran becomes sounds to behold. His sister Abbey shines on closer and tonal shift, Conn Boxing.
With the aid of her raw, unrestrained delivery, the track eviscerates rape culture as it takes aim at how tight-knit communities will champion local sporting prowess at the expense of marginalised victims.
Pretty Happy aren’t just ones to watch for the future, they’re ones to hear and see live right now.