Pretty Addicted is the vehicle under which Vicious Precious performs; live with a full band but she is responsible for the composition on this, their third album. I have seen them described as an electronic music band but this isn’t an entirely true description. This is electronic cyber goth rock, at times trance-y and at other times very industrial. For me this has a lot of vibes of Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral. Not surprisingly then at times this is very dark. Vicious Precious has already gained a reputation for a being an engaging, full on performer that at times is bordering on psychotic. This is after all a band whose motto is “We Fuck Shit Up”.
What I like about this album though is that it is much more than this image that is sometimes paraded; which is a lot more one dimensional than the band and this record in particular. There is so much more going on and the first thing that instantly strikes me is just how much Vicious Precious has developed as a songwriter since 2014’s It All Stems From Childhood. This is a for me a much more mature (no pun intended) and established piece of work. It flows better, It is produced miles better, it has the right amount of anger, vulnerability and interest to make a really great record. One of the tricks of a band like Pretty Addicted is to make a record that is going to be storming live but will also work well at home. With Holding Hands with the Shadow Man they have finally made this record.
Album opener “Choose Your Poison” is probably the most like Pretty Addicted as you have come to expect. It has that almost mean beat, interjected with interludes of almost classical electronic music. This constant breakdown of structure and change of pace is a bit of a signature of Pretty Addicted and works well, it is a technique used to great effect in Techno clubs of the early 90’s and work well when Vicious Precious really starts to emphasise her points. Great opener.
The next two tracks on the album are amongst my favourites, both for completely different reasons. “Gutter Heroes” is the first of these. It starts again in a familiar cyber goth pattern but has a depth and soul to the song and shows a different side to Pretty Addicted that is mesmerising. What interests me throughout the record is how the band manage to keep a dark edge to what is at times house-y, trance or techno. It’s like a twisted parallel universe that is just sitting there below the surface of everyday calm, a little bit like the old Silent Hill games your world could just shift at any moment. The way that Vicious Precious can change within the space of even one-word from calm to spiteful or venomous is exhilarating.
The second of these two songs is “Friend in My Head” which is great mash up of Nine Inch Nails vocally and image wise with an almost optimistic progressive dance track underneath. Doesn’t sound like you thing? I can assure you, this rocks in a big way. Lyrically what Vicious Precious also manages to do is actually relate a state of mind and a place that many people have either been to or are in. Yes, their world may be pretty extreme but you can recognise yourself within it still, ‘Like an empty box with the lid on tight, I reside here in the night, lost inside my fucking mind, I’ve been too long here, I’ve lost my grip’.
Elsewhere on the album there is plenty more variety to keep you entertained. “Monster (Inside the House)” was another favourite. It has a slow, atmospheric beat, scary but with Vicious Precious guiding you above all this it somehow seems a little less scary. “Dogma Breath” caught my attention as it comes across an early Prodigy before the vocals kick in. Final track “Numb at the Core” is like hardcore EDM with Ministry presiding over the production duties.
For lovers of dark electronic music, you will love this album. For everyone else give this record a go. It is dark, twisted, claustrophobic and may mess with your head for sure but underneath this paranoid and threatening world there is much hope. The beats are often upbeat and with Vicious Precious it feels like you have someone on your side who will fight your corner for you and at the very least will act as a guide during these dark times.