Pretty Things? More like Pretty Damn Good Things
After two years of teasing their audience with the release of their last EP Go Easy, The Guru is back at it with the release of their first full-length album, Pretty Things. Hailing from Connecticut, The Guru’s home state, I stumbled upon this group a few years ago and was intrigued by their ability to fuse various genres including surf, disco, rock, and psychedelic to produce an odd, yet enjoyable sound. After two EPs of exploration and innovation, The Guru has definitely found their groove, demonstrating their abilities throughout the course of Pretty Things by thriving in their established sound while incorporating new stylings that weren’t previously found in their music.
The album opens with “Pretty Things” and provides the listener with a feel that is reminiscent of The Guru’s prior albums, and could have easily been featured on either Native Sun or Go Easy. Additionally, The Guru provides a solid foundation for the general direction of the album which is a tad different from the previous two albums. During the course of the song, The Guru cuts the vocals and dabbles in instrumental breaks that demonstrate their talents as instrumentalists. Despite only consisting of four members, The Guru manages to create a complex, full sound. These jam sessions resurface in a majority of the songs included on the album as it even features a purely instrumental song, “Rejected Nunkie”.
The next song on the album, “Co-Desire” has a similar style to “Pretty Things”. As the listener settles into the general groove of the song, lead singer, Eddie Golden III, accompanied by the other members of the band, break into a Beach Boys-esque passage followed by a solid vamp on the drums that sets up the eventual return to the opening tone of the song. The Beach Boy-esque vibes also reappear on various tracks such as “California Girl”. Although Golden III continues to deliver the vocals listeners have become accustomed to, he also flirts with the flexibility of his voice on countless occasions which draws me into various songs featured on the album. Personally, I find it impressive that although Golden III has a unique voice, the other members of the band seem to harmonize with him quite easily. Also, not to mention the lead singer also happens to be the drummer which is beyond rad.
Based on my listening to the album throughout the last few days, my favorite song is definitely “Golden Brown”. This track combines a lot of the intricacies and workings that The Guru tempers with on Pretty Things. I was particularly drawn to the progression of the song. The song begins with a rather simplistic rhythm matched by Golden III’s raw lyrics. However, as the track builds, the instrumentation and vocals begin to layer and play off one another. By the end of the song the listener is absorbed by the lyrics and grooving right along.
Although I was thoroughly impressed by a majority of the tracks on the album, there’s really only one that I can admit hasn’t really grown on me yet, “Buoy-U”. As I mentioned earlier, Golden III definitely experiments with the limitations of his voice and it seems like in this song he may be ‘forcing it’ as it comes across slightly dissonant. Aside from the few moments that the vocals seem to be tad off, the instrumentation and overall vibe to the song is on point and rather enjoyable.
Another thing that happens quite regularly throughout the album that fuels my obsession with The Guru’s music is how frequently and smoothly they transition between styles and rhythms. For example, the song “Better Off” commences with an introduction that has a feel similar to that of Cake, yet the song also features the disco vibes that are indicative of The Guru and their innovative music. Additionally, in “California Girl”, toward the end of the song, basically all the instrumentation cuts out as Golden III sings out the remainder of the tune with vocal support from his bandmates.
Overall, I think the Guru did an excellent job with this album. As opposed to simply trying to regurgitate and remake their previous albums, The Guru quenches the listeners’ thirst for new material while also providing them with a tease of what could be in store for future albums. The structure and feel of the album suggests an array of directions The Guru could follow and makes me excited for their next album already.
On a personal note, I would like to give a big shout out to The Guru and especially Kyle Mcevoy for giving me an advanced listen to this album. Seeing as it officially drops on July 2nd, I would definitely visit their website and grab this album in addition to their older works FOR FREE.