Pretty Sick - Makes Me Sick Makes Me Smile Music Album Reviews

Pretty Sick - Makes Me Sick Makes Me Smile Music Album Reviews
Sabrina Fuentes’ debut album offers a flashback of adolescence in New York, filtering teenage themes through a studied imitation of ’90s grunge.

Sabrina Fuentes—the singer and model who formed Pretty Sick when she was 13 and in Catholic school, playing a pastiche of ’90s grunge at DIY venues around New York—is a walker. Her lyrics have always been inscribed with a rambler’s perspective. From the band’s 2017 self-titled EP, in which she addressed the city’s noise (“so loud and dull”) like a lover, to 2020’s “Deep Divine,” which saw her “Out on Allen Street at 7 in the morning/Out on Bowery at midnight in the summer,” Fuentes has made plain that her view of the city hasn’t come from the windows of a bus or taxi cab. Rather, this is someone who has spent their young life right in the nib and the nip of the city, as only a pedestrian could have.

Fuentes is now entering her twenties, and her debut album with Pretty Sick is a walk through her late adolescence—a psychogeographic mapping of teenage memory in New York City. “Yellow roses in Tompkins Square Park,” it opens, with a low rumble of grizzled bass, before launching into a grab-bag of teenage themes: desperate intensity, anhedonia, relationship abuse, substance abuse—all of which take place in Upper Manhattan parks, dive bars, bedrooms, and dancefloors.

The album’s musical influences are obvious and immediate, suggesting a stoner who grew up listening to Nirvana, Hole, and the Breeders. “I have a bad habit of anything I listen to starting to sound mirrored in my own music,” Fuentes said in an interview. It’s unfortunate that she appears to have doubled down on this habit on her debut album. Often, songs sound more like tributes to her influences than reinventions. On “Drunk,” Fuentes lifts Courtney Love’s vocal phrasing from “Violet”—right down to the very last “everything!,” which Fuentes delivers like she’s desperate to hold onto the word. The impact would be more intense were it not such a naked imitation.

Fuentes’ bass playing is wholly indebted to Kim Deal’s just-pedal-through-it technique: self-restraint as a governing aesthetic. The template contrasts well with Fuentes’ leaky, screaming, bleeding singing—Courtney Love vocals over a Kim Deal bassline is, after all, a pretty sick proposition—but it limits the songs rather than expanding them. Many tracks begin with an isolated, minimally emphatic bassline tethered to a tried-and-tested arrangement; the way the band’s songs then tend to explode —from skeletal sludge to a mudstorm of distortion and rolled-off treble tones—makes them feel like a kind of deja vu.

On “Human Condition,” the Pretty Sick world finally comes into focus, marrying dogged romance with adorably adolescent philosophical critique: “The freedom you’re being sold is just submission,” Fuentes sings over a driving, poppy hook, giving her blunt cut of a line some heft, and saving it from coming off as teenage sanctimony.

Fuentes is a singular and compelling lyricist: “The emotion I am most familiar with is longing/The feeling I know best is wanting more/I’d like to trade my glutton heart for songing/But instead, I will remain a singing whore,” she reels off on “Sober,” as though sharing an accidentally poetic journal entry. Even her slipshod meter scans as charming. On “Yeah You,” each line is packed with a few too many syllables, like an overfilled gas tank threatening to explode; the surfeit speaks to the urgency of Fuentes’ expression. Makes Me Sick Makes Me Smile largely reads as a moratorium on teenage feeling—a final weep before the weeplessness of adulthood. A final walk in the park. A final goodbye, it is hoped, to the influences that led her here.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Pretty Sick - Makes Me Sick Makes Me Smile Music Album Reviews Pretty Sick - Makes Me Sick Makes Me Smile Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on October 13, 2022 Rating: 5


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