Mid-20s Malaise

Struggling against the inevitable since 1986!

Forbløffende: Papa Vs Pretty

Some of your probably already know the adoration I have for local trio Papa Vs Pretty. They’ve just released their first major label EP, Heavy Harm, and you should all go and buy it. I went to see them supporting The Holidays (another local band who are less brilliant, but I’m very fond of them nevertheless) last weekend and they blew me out of my socks, as always.

I first met the band (well, frontman Tom Rawle) when he was a high school student of 15 or 16. It was seriously adorable: this kid blew my mind – I thought they were the best band I’d ever seen – and then he went and had a Coke with his chaperoning father. His ex-girlfriend lived in the suburb I worked in, so I’d often run into him, hanging out in his school uniform.

Anyway, I banged on and on about the band – to my friends and in the pages of the magazine I wrote for – and now they’re getting a nice bit of attention, which makes me feel justified. There’s nothing worse than extolling the virtues of a particular band (or book or film) and being met with a shrug of the shoulders when your friends are finally exposed to the object of your affection.

I’m a serious fanboy for this dude: I think everything he’s written (or, at least, everything he’s released and performed) is brilliant. He essentially recorded the first Papa Vs Pretty EP himself, a nifty collection of moody electronic pieces – kind of Kid A-era Radiohead. Afterwards, he disbanded the line-up and recruited Angus Gardiner and Tom Myers, the current rhythm section, and released another EP, mainly made up of re-recorded rock versions of the first EP’s tracks.

And now, Heavy Harm is more like The Bends-era Radiohead. It’s a great release, but the stage is where they really slay it: they turn into an aggressive power trio that puts me in mind of 50 Foot Wave. I’ve never seen anybody  A crowd favourite during their live sets is a cover of Prince’s Purple Rain (see below).

Everyone was crying out for Purple Rain last weekend (which they played as an encore – the first time I’ve seen a support band called back onstage), which strikes me as a bit rude: covers are nice, but their own stuff is holy-shit-amazing. Current single, Heavy Harm.

And then, there’s earlier single Ballad, which they don’t play any more. It’s a bit more indicative of their live sound – abrasive indie-rock – and I fucking love how 90s the clip is: a cheerful band emerging out of a suburban cupboard and playing a private show in an increasingly confused teenager’s bedroom. Also, watch drummer Tom Myers’ face: he’s the most expressive drummer I’ve ever seen. His tongue rolls from one side of his mouth to the other, he grins and grimaces and purses his lips like a monkey. It’s the best.

And hey! I just found out I’m a source on their Wikipedia page! Woo woo! According to Wikipedia (and my memory), in 2007 I described their first EP as “the best thing I’ve heard this year”. And if it wasn’t for Diamond Rings, I’d be saying the same thing again right now.

Papa Vs Pretty. Verdict: amazing.

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