Burn Books

Fissioning a handful of chords played at a brisk pace with melodic hooks is nothing new. But nor is it something to be avoided, as it’s that kind of practice that has produced a good deal of the most enjoyable music of the last three or four decades. Adding a little buzz to a good tune never hurts, while conversely a good melody usually is enough to overcome any shortcoming of fidelity.

Such is the case with self-titled debut record from Brooklyn three-piece Pregnant. The album points to eras gone by (read the ’90s) but it’s only because of its adherence to that sweet and sweaty tenet. The band—singer and guitarist Kevin Manion, bassist Stefanie Bridges and drummer Ian T—bash about plenty of good stuff within the 10 three-minute songs found on the album, finding their own manner for combining the aforementioned elements. No doubt recorded on the cheap with perhaps a four-track or ProTools loaded on a Commodore 64, all the songs are rough around the edges, but were they not, they’d be as radio-friendly as, say, the Foo Fighters. That’s not to say Pregnant suffers from that band’s pop-punk diffusions, only that if you took away the fuzz, this would easily bound about on the airwaves. As it is, I prefer the scuzziness intact.

After starting off with the kicking “Real Talk,” the trio finds its groove on “Skin Display,” a dark-tinted number that recalls any number of Dischord bands. “Wormie” is a fitful bout of ragged guitar and plodding rhythms, which best showcases Manion’s well-worn vocals. Best, though, is “Help,” whose high-strung guitar lead skates over the rhythm section’s punchy contributions. If any song here deserves its own single, it’s this one. The A-side ends with “Toothache,” a quick, angular mix of thorny riffs tethered to Manion’s peppery singing.

On the flipside, the cadence is generally more furious, best exemplified on “You Give It to Me,” with synaptic cracks emphasizing the track’s clamor. “Wanna See My Gun?” is played at a similarly frantic pace and with enough soulful verve that it recalls Nation of Ulysses sans horns but plus piano. Here, one can hear the band giving it all, firing all its cylinders at once to end the album with aplomb.

Again, this isn’t rocket science. Nor is it some grand concept. No, Pregnant are what you might call traditionalists if it didn’t sound so stuffy. There’s nothing stuffy to be found on this record, only the kind of fetching feral strains that are impossible not to dig.
Stephen Slaybaugh