Arts album review

Pacific Radio is just so-so

LA rock band’s debut album Pretty, but Killing Me gives no thrill to me

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Joe Robinson (singer/ guitar), Joe Stiteler (bass), Kyle Biane (Guitar), and Hyke Shirinian (Drums) comprise Pacific Radio.
Courtesy of Secret Service Publicity

Pretty, but Killing Me

Pacific Radio

Released Dec. 8, 2017

Maintaining a rock band is hard. I speak from experience: I formed one in February. It lasted about five days.

That being said, maintaining a rock band is not necessary. Some people are just not meant to make music, a fact I thought about while listening to Pacific Radio. The Los Angeles-based rock band’s first full-length album, Pretty, but Killing Me, was quite a ways beyond unpleasant.

Don’t get me wrong — I wouldn’t mind if Pacific Radio kept playing music. Its members do not lack technical skill, and the lead singer has a bearable drawl. The production of Pretty, masterminded by Grammy-nominated Eric Weaver, is fine. What bothers me is that the album is built from predictable (because unoriginal) tropes and shallow lyrics. It was, in a nutshell, not worth listening to because I had heard it all before.

Take, for example, Pretty’s second track (“Whiskey Girl”). This song is one of the better ones on the album, but even it seems familiar. It’s bass-heavy — typical of rock songs, — and over-repeats the line with the band’s one good pun: “I took a shot on a whiskey girl.” Midway through, the chorus is repeated in a different tempo, replacing the bridge because the band is too lazy to write new words for one.

Of course, that’s an assumption, but one I make having heard the rest of Pretty, which is almost imitative in its humdrum. There’s the moment or two, naturally, when the instruments pause appropriately for vocal emphasis; there’s the requisite series of bass solos; there’s the awkward rhyme (“sin” with “again,” in “Last Night’s Makeup”); there’s even a song that sounds suspiciously like a Beach Boys tune (“Dancin’”).

In fact, Pacific Radio seems so lackadaisical about its composition that it imitates itself. The final quarter of the album consists entirely of slow, nearly waltz-y songs about longing.

On top of this, the lyrics on Pretty are aggressively uninspired. The majority of them are, frankly, sexist, from the phrase “She’s hot as sin but worth the melt” (“Katie”) to an entire song’s worth of rhymes dedicated to a woman’s tight jeans and how she should want to take them off when she meets the singer. I felt extremely uncomfortable during that song (“Tight Jeans”), especially when the question “Was it as good for you as it was for me?” was followed by the declaration, “I’m sure it was.”

So while I’m impressed that the Pacific Radio players have kept their band alive far longer than I kept mine, I’m not sure that the rockers should celebrate the release of such a flat record in Pretty, but Killing Me. Give it a few years, perhaps, but for now, they might want to keep their creations in the garage.