Pretty Sick, “Come Down”
If the music industry’s pendulum is swinging back to a punk revival, Pretty Sick is one band poised to be at the forefront. Led by vocalist/bassist Sabrina Fuentes—alongside drummer Austin Williamson (Onyx Collective), guitarist Wade Oates (formerly of The Virgins), and a new second bassist Orazio Argentero—Pretty Sick has fleshed out their signature grunge-oriented sound on their latest EP Come Down. Released as a follow up to fall 2020’s Deep Divine, Come Down treads into darker territory. The twin set of EPs work as counterparts—think of Come Down’s chugging rhythms and thrashing vocals as the yang to Deep Divine’s dreamlike, reverb-soaked yin. It’s more raw in sentiment and experimental in sound, still showcasing Pretty Sick’s penchant for zeroing in on a coming-of-age yearning.
“Bet My Blood” throws Come Down’s gut-punch with aggressive drums, pipe-shredding screams, and dual bass, recalling the sludge metal elements and distorted doom of Melvins and Jucifer. Similarly, the feedback-heavy, crunchy guitar solos on “Devil in Me” are balanced by earnest lulls: “I know I’m making a mistake, but what can I do? / When eyes sweet as yours look at me the way you do.”
In Come Down, Fuentes demonstrates a vocal range that’s developed from Pretty Sick’s previous releases. For instance, in “She,” the singer plays with an eerie quavering vibrato—an almost possessed quality. “She wants to be running wild and free / Really who am I to judge?,” she sings. Yet pop sensibilities shine through in tracks like “Dumb,” where an energetic tempo and lyrics delivered with a devil-may-care attitude evoke the same kind of frenzied pleasure that bands like L7 and Hole once did.
A more melancholic and introspective example is “Physical,” a simple, catchy drumbeat with ominous synth where Fuentes sings about love lost. “But in all, I don’t have a care in the world / I bet it all for you / I would have lost my share, I’ve killed and spared / But it’s all so physical.” Tight thematic threads of unrequited love, growing up in downtown New York, and the allure and agony of troubled relationships run throughout the EP and tie it together, as if each song is a different dialect of the same language.
Perhaps their most well-rounded collection to date, Come Down exhibits a range of musical influences with cohesion—no easy feat with the brevity of eight tracks. While an uninhibited youthfulness is key to capturing the innate energy of punk, Pretty Sick never entirely relies on it. It’s their ever-evolving songwriting, maturing into complex arrangements with greater creative flexibility, that allows them to do so in a way that feels both timeless and refreshing. One can trace kinships with quintessential early-’90s guitar rock bands, though Come Down, as well as Deep Divine, transcend a sound that’s merely nostalgic.