The Preatures are often considered one of the best bands in the country. It’s such a pity then that their newly released sophomore album, Girlhood, gives little credence to this.
Ouch! It hurt writing that. This reviewer wanted nothing more than to throw a 9/10 on the cover and drive off into the blue. But then I’d be lying. All the ingredients are there: their debut album Blue Planet Eyes was a revelation in how guitar bands can still make a successful pop record you can dance to. You had the bona fide mega pop star singer, the Byronic, boyfriend guitarist (who’s also the band’s producer), the other guitarist who wanted to be James Dean and then the other two affable blokes that, well, could be anyone. The simple fact is that Girlhood, with a concept based around front woman Izzy Manfredi’s personal self-realisation – is too heavy on introspective ballads than actual avenues for the listener’s fulfilment. It’s not that it’s a bad record, it’s just a tough nut to crack with memorable hooks a fleeting, rare commodity.
This album’s self-confessed magnum opus Yanada is a beautiful, expansive tune that features aboriginal tribal language (yep) and glossy synth tones that wash over you like a Monterey, California sunset. Arguably the front-runner for best track is the unashamedly 1980s-esque I Like You – this has to be the next single or somebody at Universal should be sacked. It’s the sexiest track on a largely sex-less album featuring Manfredi’s best vocal work on the LP. The funky Mess It Up is similar with the band’s rhythm section showcasing their prowess at indie-groove. The track also contains an artful lead break by guitarist Jack Moffitt that make’s one wish there was more of his solo fretwork.
With founding-member guitarist Gideon Benson leaving the band at the beginning of the album’s gestation, his departure is perhaps noticeable. The songs are less muscular, less rock and roll perhaps. Sure, the album’s called Girlhood and indeed the title track is an invigorating little tune, but the soundscape just sounds like it’s missing balls. Production-wise Moffitt has done a sterling job but there’s a noticeable absence of weight to the mix – you’ll ask yourself at times, “where’s the bass?”.
Mid last year I Know a Girl was released as a single – a fun, playful pop track with a great riff, funny lyrics and it was utterly charming. So what do they do? Leave it off a record that needs great riffs, playfulness and big choruses. Maybe in the live setting this album will blossom and if you haven’t seen them live yet it is a must – charisma, authenticity and skill in spades. For now, give Girlhood a whirl but don’t expect another Blue Planet Eyes.