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Elan Vital

3.6 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 11, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The Seattle quintet's follow-up to the universally acclaimed "The New Romance", and their first album since the addition of keyboardist Leona Marrs, is by far their most ambitious, multifarious, and scorching to date. Produced by Colin Stewart (Black Mountain, Destroyer), "Elan Vital" provides the band with a bigger, bolder canvas with which to weave their magic. The new material, road-tested at gigs around the globe with Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, and Death Cab For Cutie, shows a blindingly original American band who are improving with each successive album. Matador. 2006.

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Weeks on the road with the likes of Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party certainly made an impression this Seattle quintet. On the follow-up to 2003's The New Romance, Pretty Girls Make Graves edge away from scratchy indie rock and embrace a more svelte, early '80s inspired post-punk sound. Much of it has to do with the addition of keyboardist Leona Marrs, whose economical melodies put electronics and retro dance grooves at the fore. Tracks like "Pyrite Pedestal" and "Domino" point the way forward, coming across like a hybrid of The Slits and The Fall. But the experimentation doesn't end there. Tracks like prog-ish "The Magic Hour" and punky-reggae "Selling the Wind" pull the band in more directions than it can always handle. Nobody said growing up is easy. --Aidin Vaziri
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 11, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Matador Records
  • ASIN: B000EAV73U
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #358,418 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
At first, I didn't know what to think of this cd. I have loved PGMG since I heard "Speakers Push the Air" and the rest of Good Health. This cd is a departure from the straight up indie pop/rock that I have become comfortable with to a more artistic sound and it took me awhile to develop my opinion on it. I really like this cd. PGMG have developed their sound, which I believe has a lot to do with their new keyboardist (and you're really going to love when they sing harmony or duel together...it's great). I respect it when a band takes a chance and grows, which is what PGMG did.

Again, I didn't really care for this cd at first because I didn't know what to think of it. There really is no song you could point to and say "There is the single", where the other cd's had "Speakers Push the Air" and "All Medicated Geniuses". The cd doesn't really "rock" either. It just flows and you find yourself bobbing your head along without even realizing it.

The first track starts off with a whistle and a curious guitar riff. Later on, Andrea belts out one word that describes the whole cd: "Magnetic". After one listen, I wrote off the cd. Then I kept getting parts of the cd in my head, and here I am, giving it a 4/5.

"The Number" is probably my favorite song. It has a great breakdown near the middle of the song that just sounds amazing and breaks into a bass/drum showcase

The album is so different that when "Domino" comes up and Andrea asks "How do you like me, How do you like me now?" You can't help but think that maybe she's asking the listener the same thing.

"Selling the Wind" is a good song, but one can't help but think that it's very Decemberists-influenced.
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Format: Audio CD
...'cause of some of the bad reviews this is getting- I really like it! Some great jams emerge as the album winds its way through spooky-cool experimentation. The saccharin ending and useless male vocal tracks are my only gripes.
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Format: Audio CD
My two favorite girl fronted bands put out new cds around the same time. While The Yeah Yeah Yeahs new more "mature" record is my favorite of theirs, Pretty Girls "Elan Vital" didn't fair as well (although how great will that ice cream cone look on a t-shirt). I've been a fan of PGMG from the beginning, and seen them live 3 or 4 times. Their album Good Health grabbed me, every song I loved, especially Sad Girls, Por Vida. The day their second album came out I was walking downtown in the rain to get my copy. It was less punk and more dance, but still awesome. This new record feels a world away from Good Health. Andrea gave up yelling, they lost a guitarist- and it makes a HUGE difference. It's not a bad record, it's just not the Pretty Girls I know and love. Tracks 3, 7 and 10 are great, and how come they waited till album #3 to let a dude sing? That track is awesome. Not sure which guy it is, but he has a very nice voice. So, maybe wait till ya have some extra cash or buy this one used.
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Format: Audio CD
Since this was just released today, I have only listened to it once while at work with multiple interruptions from my co-workers. But if I could assign it 7 stars I would. Much more sonically diverse than the last album. It gives me hope once again for American music. (This will probably be all I listen to for a while.) All should buy it, all will dig it!
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Format: Audio CD
I'm a huge fan of pretty girls make graves. Their first two albums really rocked the joint. But I'm sorry to report that this album really doesn't add up. It just doesn't make much sense to me at all. There is none of that old magic which really made the other albums rock here!

instead they've gone for a really lazy, laid back style which doesn't hold yer interest. for example one song starts off with a crunchy rocking guitar riff, which sounds promising enough, but then it disappears and is replaced by a dull bass line and doesn't re-appear at all. They then get bored of the bass line and move on to something else at which point the song ends!! the whole album goes like that. Songs barely get going and then promptly end.

The second guitar play has disappeared to! which means you don't get that cool guitar interplay sound which defined their other albums ( I reckon he was the talented one). They've replaced 2nd guitar with a keyboard player who, i kid u not, puts samples of fireworks in one song!! (I've said enough)

C'mon people! lets have a bit of structure/effort/balls. I heard that andrea's vocals are shot n' the doc said she had to cool it down, so I can only assume they are trying to change their direction or something.. But they are heading in the direction of Dido or goldfrapp or something bad like that.

I've listened to the album about 12 times now and can honestly say not a single one really sticks out in my mind.. What d'you guys think about it?

I hope they get their acts together and recover from this droop.

It's like Henry Rollins Said "If you aint gonna put 110% in don't even bother"
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Format: Audio CD
Not much to complain about the last album from Pretty Girls Make Graves except, of course, the fact that it is their last album. With artistic progression evident on all fronts on this release this music fan will be eagerly awaiting future projects from the band's members. Quick note on this album's tunes: For one of the best and catchiest feminist protest/marching song ever check out track 4 (Parade).
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