It’s always refreshing to find someone taking something so familiar and spinning it in a new direction, sometimes it works so well that you wonder why other artists haven’t done it before. Such is the case for Broolyn’s Angel Du$t and their latest album Pretty Buff. You can lump this sound in the umbrella of pop punk, a genre that has run its course during the 2000s, but somehow Pretty Buff sounds fresh and new, with elements that are so far off the norm that could make you scratch your head. Who knew acoustic guitars, bongos and tambourines would work so well in a pop punk context? Somehow they make it work, taking good use of dynamic song structures and catchy hooks to keep listeners interested, without ever feeling stale.
One key to this is keeping it short and sweet, they certainly know their audience’s attention span. None of its 13 tracks exceed the 3 minute mark, each one is jam packed with movement, eager to go to the next section and never staying still.
Another highlight is how they managed to craft love songs without being too corny or melodramatic. “No Fair” uses power pop melodies to drive the feeling of loneliness, keeping the drums to a minimum while maintaining a lively energy. “Big Ass Love” is a dynamic romp that never stays in one spot. It narrates finding love on the dance floor, enamored by the big ass sounds.
“Light Blue” is a standout. Everything is stripped down to the essentials, with only guitars, brushed up drums and feel-good vocals. This takes the track to surf-rock territory, with melancholic riffs and an earworm of do-do-do’s, it characterizes a relationship that’s slowly falling off the edge.
“Push” is incredibly uplifting. The kind of music you could add to your workout playlist or your pick-me-up-when-i’m-down collection. It talks about having the courage to push through new bounds and to face adversities that come along. The song accentuates this with relentless energy from start to end.
“Bang My Drum” is a wonderful choice for a single as it represents the whole album in its entirety. A catchy rhythmic experience that will keep you engrossed with its anthemic chorus. It features one of the rarest sightings in modern pop – the guitar solo, and tops it off with an even more archaic beast – the saxophone solo.
Angel Du$t is a side project by of members of hardcore bands Trapped Under Ice and Turnstile, and that partly explains the quirkiness of Pretty Buff. They are free to experiment to their heart’s content, unhindered by expectations and norms. This album displays a fundamental understanding of the catchy pop formula and how it works, while also adding new ideas to enhance it further. I do think there is something here that people would want to keep listening to, and I hope they don’t stop adding to this project. Angel Du$t broke new ground in a genre that I thought had already run its course, and now I want to hear more.
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