Seattle’s own Pretty Awkward are back this summer with a smart jam in their new single “Misfits,” and whether this is your first time listening to the band or you’ve been following their story since last year, I think most pop fans are going to like what they hear. Polished, emotive and surprisingly exotic, the verses and harmonies that convey them in this song are definitely on the upper level of the creative totem pole, and while I was told to expect a lot here, I didn’t think I’d be listening to quite as well-rounded an effort in “Misfits” as I did.
The rhythm in this single is torturously pendulous in a couple of spots, but I really dig the tension this ultimately produces for the audience. While the verses are describing the isolation of being alone – and more specifically, the unity of those who don’t fit into the standard mold – the music is going a step further and getting us to feel what the implied protagonist in the words is. It’s forward and a little progressive, but it leads to a look this band wears remarkably well (especially since they’re new to the pop market in general).
Though the guitars could have been just a pinch louder in the chorus, the stylishness of the riffs here doesn’t get lost in translation between the start and finish of the single. I think it’s pretty clear that Pretty Awkward aren’t trying to be known as a chest-beating, fretwork-focused rock group, but they’re still making a point to steer themselves away from the barebones aesthetic of their contemporaries in the Seattle pop underground. God knows that scene hasn’t had many heroes in the last few years, but the narrative could change with the advent of acts like this one.
The hook in “Misfits” has an OG pop feel to it, but much like the rest of this song, it wasn’t overproduced to achieve this sound at all. The best part about Pretty Awkward is their relative adherence to DIY ethics when it comes to constructing their catchiest choruses; they want to drive home the big, bold harmonies, but they’re also noting just how unbecoming the stain of excess can be in an indie pop composing style such as theirs. They’re smarter than the average newcomers, and if that wasn’t obvious before now, it will be with the increased exposure they get from this track.
I was only somewhat familiar with Pretty Awkward before I thoroughly examined their complete three-song discography after checking out “Misfits,” but I’m definitely feeling where they’re trying to take their sound here. “Misfits” is everything its title would imply it is and a little more, but not because of some sonic abrasiveness commonly associated with the word (thanks to the iconic 80’s hardcore band). Pretty Awkward don’t want to be mainstream; their melodic assault is geared towards more of a highbrow pop audience, and at this point, they’re wise to continue chasing these listeners’ praise with everything they’ve got.
Michael Rand, posted by Mark Druery