A reluctant soul, Daniel Markham spends the bulk of time recusing himself from society and relationships on his latest opus, Pretty Bitchin’. Forever juggling his penchant for doom rock with the more polished sound of mid-’90s alternative pop, Markham channeled his heroes in REM on 2013’s Ruined My Life; this time around, Markham opts for the former, turning to the metal gods of the ’70s for both musical and lyrical inspiration.
But it’s so hard to be the best
Hiding out in shadows all alone
So turn off all the lights now
When you go
Wisely positioning the inspirational “Make Believe” and its pop-punk Carpe Diem message as the opening track, Markham asserts his trademark dour position on the moping country-blues number “Sabbath Horse,” the fuzzed peal of “Burn Away” and the overdriven waltz of closer “Let You Down.”
Let us be the luckiest
For all we know
This world will burn someday
Treading on religious ground in the punchy questioning of “Coming Down” and the throbbing “Ennio,” with its opening lines of “I don’t care / There’s no reason for it,” Markham and fellow Denton, Texas cohorts Grady Sandlin and Ryan Thomas Becker of RTB2 and The Satans of Soft Rock’s Tony Ferraro show great restraint here, as on the scuzzy groove of “Disconnected and Flying.” Freed from any set strictures, Markham et al are unleashed on the pogoing “Night (Just One More)” with its swarming bee guitar squalls and hand claps, the stuttering love song “Hide the Body” and pseudo prog rock film score of “Fire Girl.”
Almost a genre unto himself, Markham has again issued a focused rock and roll missive that’s loud and boisterous when needed without sacrificing production and musicianship. While Markham’s pensive lyrical outlook may attempt to keep listeners at arm’s length, his always-measured vocal delivery urges you closer through his infectious yet unpredictable songs. By perfecting a sound that spans generations, Markham speaks to alienation while marginalizing nary a person.
Vinyl Worthy for its cover alone, enjoy the layered slab of sound that is Pretty Bitchin’ by streaming/purchasing below.