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Friday, April 21, 2006


Pretty Girls Make Graves "Elan Vital"

Overflowing with fast-paced, addictive post-hardcore anthems, Pretty Girls Make Graves' debut, 2002's "Good Health," had indie rock hipsters frothing at the mouth. The Seattle act followed with 2003's equally impressive "The New Romance." A line-up change saw the band losing a guitarist and adding a keyboardist before this, their third full-length album, "Elan Vital."

And it's quite a departure. Striving to expand their sound, electronic flourishes, accordion, whistles and horns have been worked into their densely woven compositions. In doing so, they've compromised the resounding punk energy that made their past albums so powerful and refreshing.

The album does have its moments. "Pyrite Pedestal" and the guitarless "Pictures of a Night Scene" find PGMG experimenting while still retaining the confidence and intensity that their music used to exude naturally. For a lesser group, "Elan Vital" might not be so disappointing. PGMG, though, can do much better than this.

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