Delightfully mild but strong enough to push forth a groove the size of a skyscraper, the vocal harmony that we find in the center of the mix of “Misfits” is as much an embodiment of youth as the attack utilized by Pretty Awkward in this new single is. “Misfits,” while being somewhat familiar in structure when compared side by side with the general sound of the American underground in the late 2010s, is undisputedly the most melodic track this band has shared so far – and perhaps their most mature in story as well. There’s a lot Pretty Awkward are trying to get off of their chests here, and they aren’t letting a single weapon in their war chest go without getting a little stage time in this single.
The rhythm is more a tool of emphasizing the hook than it is a prop being applied to the beat of the drums, and while I don’t think the percussive style needed to be quite as lean and mean as it is to make a point about the band’s efficient technique, it yields a swinging final product at any rate. One of the most important things a band can do upon reaching the stage Pretty Awkward have is going out of their way to avoid becoming tethered to any of the indie ‘movements’ often dubbed as much by the press, and here, it’s very clear this group is trying to distinguish their style from the competition. If this weren’t the case, I don’t know why they would be imparting as many layers of melodicism as they are in “Misfits.”
This hook is sharp and bright, drawing us in like the warm rays of a new day’s rising sun, and it takes every component of the harmony here to make it as stunning as it undisputedly is. There’s no space for filler or fluff in “Misfits;” on the contrary, I think Pretty Awkward probably trimmed this song down a couple of times before they greenlit the master copy for widespread distribution. It’s got a refined feel that I don’t hear a lot of in indie rock, and though some will be quick to call this a pop-focused aspect of the young band’s developing sound, I don’t think there’s enough evidence to support that just yet – after all, this is only their third single since forming.
If you like smart indie pop/rock that doesn’t ask a lot out of its audience in exchange for a wealth of tonal expressiveness, Pretty Awkward’s “Misfits” is an amazing way to cap off your late summer soundtrack this August. Both the concept for this song and the melodies that comprise its most climactic moments were conceived in nature – that much is obvious no matter what your critical background may or may not be – and in an age that rewards synthetic songcraft all too often, this is essentially as bold a moderate rock ballad as we could ask for from an up and coming crew. Pretty Awkward aren’t to the mountaintop yet, but with tracks like this, they’ll get there sooner than some would expect.