Release Date: Feb 5, 2016
Record label: Rough Trade
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Pop
Ukeleles! Songs about TV characters! Lists of rubbish boyfriends! The prospect of a particular kind of lo-fi cutesiness hangs heavy over New York duo the Prettiots: any description of them rather makes you feel as though your teeth are about to rot from an overdose of icing sugar, and raises the prospect that they’re some kind of New York hipster injoke. But that does them a huge disservice: there’s a darkness and lyrical ruthlessness about them that completely undercuts the sweetness of the first taste. Boys (That I Dated in High School) uses the real names of singer Kay Kasparhauser’s former boyfriends to skewer those who let her down, such as Rocky, “who wouldn’t dump his girlfriend / He said she gave such good head / And since her grandpa was dead / He couldn’t dump her just yet.
“Boys (That I Dated in High School)”, the first single from the debut album by the NYC trio the Prettiots, captures in about three minutes all of the band’s best traits and everything that will be used to criticize them. The latter would be the ukulele, cleverness and self-aware way of singing for the spotlight. And, you know, the fact that they’re voicing from a place of certainty the desires, feelings and opinions of Millennial women, a ticket to being brushed aside.
A lyrically sardonic breath of fresh air – that’s the best way to describe this. I’m talking about NYC indie pop duo, The Prettiots, and their newest LP, Funs Cool. Lead vocalist, Kay Kasparhauser, glides along with some serious Victoria Legrand and Dolores O’Riordan vibes, while bassist Lulu Landolfini brings in a serious punk feel (not to mention a killer Winehouse cat eye).
A decade ago, Rachel Trachtenburg gained some low-level fame as a young teenager playing drums for her parents’ band, The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players. Now, she’s behind the kit for Kay Kasparhauser and Lulu Prat, the vocalist/ukulele player and bassist respectively, of The Prettiots. Funs Cool – yes, there seems to be an apostrophe missing – is the trio’s debut LP and comprises, mostly, twee folky ditties about relationships and the insecurities of being a young woman, as well as boys, boys and more boys.
Brooklyn duo Kay Kasparhauser and Lulu Landolfi, better known as The Prettiots, enjoy defying expectations. While there’s not a great deal to their sound – built mainly around ukulele and bass guitar – their twee, folky compositions provide a striking contrast to the biting lyrics. It’s certainly easy to see why Rough Trade founder Geoff Travis signed them to his label soon after hearing their lo-fi musings.
“Lena Dunham with a ukulele” might run a crude sales pitch for the debut album of the Prettiots, the New York duo of Kay Kasparhauser and Lulu Prat who set the travails of early twentysomething life to naive folk-pop. Handclaps and harmonies share space with bad sex and Instagram, and by the time of album closer 10-10 Would Chill Again, the lyrics have given way to a knowing litany of hipster cliches. But though the self-consciousness and perky melodies start to wear thin, there’s depth here too.
Funs Cool is the winsomely subversive debut by New York indie pop act the Prettiots. On paper and even at first blush, the sunny melodies and ironic lyrics of ukulele-playing frontwoman Kay Kasparhauser and bassist Lulu Landolfi seem a little too cute to digest, but beneath the surface of tracks like "Suicide Hotline" and "Anyways" are darker undertones that reveal the Prettiots to be more than just a hip gimmick. Sure, they sing bright little odes to odd leading men like Law & Order detective Elliot Stabler ("Stabler") and actor Klaus Kinski ("Kiss Me Kinski"), and their unfairly pretty cover of the Misfits classic "Skulls" is straight-up novelty, but Kasparhauser's warm voice and keen wit are generally enough to carry the album.