OUT THE INSIDE is Pretty City’s 3rd album, recorded in a huge 3 story beach house overlooking the ocean on the west coast of Oregon, USA. The sessions were done in an incredible 10 days, just days before the band flew out to showcase at SXSW 2018.
A glistening album that draws from their previous albums hazy 90s rock, arena glam and fuzzy psych pop it brings new pop elements to round out a melodic and crisp entry into their repertoire.
Recorded and written during a tumultuous time for the band, in between almost non-stop touring, the band was facing pressures externally all while fighting their own personal demons.
The album captures the turmoil of the band at that time that were often hard to talk about. OUT THE INSIDE is all the things you can’t say out loud, but hope everyone can hear.
After more European touring the band returned home physically and emotionally drained and the album was left unfinished collecting dust for over a year. When the band got back together to finish it, pressures felt before had merely taken a break and the toll felt by front-man Hugh ended with him leaving the group. It seemed like an untimely end to the band who were on the up and up.
But with the pandemic putting a pause on much of life, the rest of the band didn’t want to leave some of their best work collecting dust. So, with Hugh’s blessing, the album was finished and OUT THE INSIDE is finally seeing a release.
Despite the drama surrounding the band, the recording sessions proved to be a welcome break. Amazingly scheduled between international tours and SXSW showcase, they squeezed a week to record in an idyllic beach house.
Sitting in the eye of the hurricane songwriter, Hugh, was able to channel his feelings and put into song what he was going through. The themes of loss, frustration, anxiety and pressure mirrored a lot of what the other members were feeling, bringing the members together and making this album the most personal release from the band.
First single Health, reflects on that time where the band was working at break neck speeds touring internationally and releasing material constantly, and self-care was hard to come by.
Health, is a swirling psych pop song with a stadium rock chorus. Its pop sensibilities hide dark lyrics about self-destructive behaviour that come about from the stress and anxiety at mounting pressures on the band.
“My only home is a freakshow, My only friend is a silhouette, Sooner or later your thoughts will betray you and start doing things that are bad for your health”
We Should Be Friends and Places To Hide deal with “playing the game” in the music industry where fakeness is currency. Album opener Places To Hide has been a live favourite for years with its attention grabbing rock riff intro.
It pounds your senses from the get-go and doesn’t let up. Lyrically it deals with the frustrations of having to always be on and not being able to be your authentic self when you’re quite literally on show every night. While We Should Be Friends is about fake friends clinging onto the band on the rise.
“I can paint you a picture, tell you a story, sell you a lie, but there’s nowhere to run or places to hide.”
The album flows effortlessly through stadium rock, blissed out psych pop and even moments of 80s new wave. But some of the most touching moments are the quietest.
Where Love Takes me is a simple piano ballad and a deeply touching song. Hugh, reflecting on the breakup of a relationship, passes no judgement on how it ended but defends himself in the moment singing he was just following what his heart was telling him to do.
“I only go where love takes me, I only know what love tells me”
Other songs are just as gut wrenching. Don’t Close Your Heart and In My Own Time tell of the torment of a love that turned sour and album closer, In Conversation, though a masterclass in punk rock and noise, is about shattered relationships when communication breaks down.
There are moments on the album that are heartbreaking, feelings of being pushed up against a wall, and even anger, but there are also a few glimmers of hope. On The Inside, reminds us that no matter what external pressures are on us, no matter what the world throws, we have everything we need within us.
“So please, my love, Tear it down and build it back up,
Our strength is all on the inside”
It’s perhaps the song that wraps the whole album together. Accepting the trouble going on around you and realising you just need to trust yourself to get through.
The juxtaposition of swirling pop and stomping rock make for an engaging listen, showcasing the varied styles and directions the band are able to master. But really the hero of the album are the melodies which shine through even the darkest lyrical themes. Long after the dreamy haze has left you, the melodies and lyrics will stay with you and creep into your sleep.
The album is the perfect bookend to the bands career. Taking elements from their past work and weaving it into the album with newer fresher sounds. It’s some of their most personal and best work to date.
A fitting tribute to a band who pushed themselves artistically wherever they could, took on challenges and risks with their career and achieve their dreams. And the band are very happy that they get to stoke the fires one more time with this release before letting the embers burn out.