Formed in the fall of 2008, St. Louis’ Pretty Little Empire hit the ground running with their first release, Sweet Sweet Hands, on Bellevue Box Records in October 2009.
While touring and playing shows to support their debut album, the band was simultaneously writing and recording their second. This sophomore effort, Reasons and Rooms, was released in 2010 and proved to be PLE’s most successful to date. The release earned the band local accolades, with The Riverfront Times naming Pretty Little Empire their 2011 pick for Best Americana Rock Band, and bestowing the title of Best Songwriter upon Justin Johnson in the same year.
Pretty Little Empire has trimmed the fat and honed their skills even more on their third, self-titled album, which was released this past October on Extension Chord Records. Working together with producer, David Beeman, PLE has crafted a sound that extends beyond the boundaries of predictable Americana or rock n’ roll. A key component of the band’s identity is revealed in their raw and intense live shows, and this third Pretty Little Empire full-length effectively translates their treasured stage performances to record.
From Johnson’s insistent and aggressive vocal delivery on otherwise melodically sweet tracks like “The Way You Say It” and “Master Plan”, to Will Godfred’s haunting and dreamy guitar tones on “Patina”, this 10-track album revels and excels in contradiction throughout. Wade Durbin and Evan O’Neal on bass and drums, respectively, round this record off by maintaining a solid rhythm section; notice the way they shine on one of the record’s particularly hard-hitters, “Out of Control”.
Pretty Little Empire’s latest self-titled release is the result coming through a period of transition and growth which has lead them to create their finest effort yet. If it is possible to breathe fire and smile simultaneously, this is the album that does it.