Transferring the energy of a live show into the studio is not an easy task. For a band that has only ever released live gig recordings, New Zealand’s Fly My Pretties have a splendid unspoken, almost symbiotic feeling between the band the listener in the remarkable crisp release, The Studio Recordings. To quote one of the lines from the song “Champion”, “you came through for us, more times that I could ever count”, Fly My Pretties’ album comes through song after song in the exhilarating 10-track gem. The roar of the crowd and the energy from the audience might not be on record, but the powerful connectiveness of music is present.
One of the things that is most endearing about this band is the actual music. The songs have distinctively different tonal flavors and still at their core the guitar work and melodies shine. In the first track “Singing In My Soul” the chorus feels like a group of songwriters (and friends!) got together for a campfire. This song burns deeper than just a catchy chorus; the acoustic guitar straddles the line between 70s rock and country twang. It’s a mellow, fun track and interesting choice out of the gate. Up next are two songs that kick things up a bit more “Champion” has a gallop to it, the quick fingers on the guitar playing seem to be in a race with the percussion. It makes for a bit more of an emotional appeal than “Singing In My Soul” in terms of layering. “Quiet Girl” is swampy, bluesy tones with a more present drum kit. The vocals are smooth, almost psychedelic. Lyrically, this song hammers the “I still love the quiet girl” quite a bit, and there’s a soft ‘ah-woo’ whispering. I was waiting for Chris Isaak to belt out at some point, a la “Wicked Game” but “Quiet Girl” swirls its way around and finds its way somewhere between a Doors song, Isaak and Tommy Shondell. “Quiet Girl” is the standout track to The Recordings and towards the end of the song, the guitar, and overall music bed feels like the ocean tide swooshing against an electric guitar.
The party track “Bag of Money” has a reggae vibe going for it and the beat just feels so right. “Get Out” also has a Caribbean-like percussion for it, the vocals feel much more pop music, almost like DeBarge or Michael Jackson. As the album moves along, the arc and the mood the band has created feels very much like the perfect setlist to a full-night of dancing, grooving and being in the mood for live music. Special nod to the soothing “Garden” for the gorgeous vocals and the thought-provoking line “this is not the world I know”. The song drives home a somber, yet soothing reminder. In its special way, “Garden” envelopes the listener in comfort.
As the saying goes, the only way to keep music live is to keep going to shows. New Zealand’s Fly My Pretties have flipped their story and doing it their own way – they have successfully merged a live band into a polished record full of all the fun and top-notch musicianship the Kiwis have always been known for.