The Struts | Pretty Vicious Review
by Griff Stevens
The Struts, that charismatic quartet of Brit rockers, return with a sonic boom in their fourth studio album, Pretty Vicious, unveiled as their inaugural full-length offering under the Big Machine/John Varvatos Records banner. Released on November 3, 2023, the 11-track record captures the essence of their electrifying live performances, channeling the raw energy into a cohesive studio experience.
The production helm manned by The Struts themselves, with the collaborative genius of Julian Raymond and the oversight of Scott Borchetta, has yielded an album where the band’s inherent stadium-filling exuberance is funneled into their most intense and captivating compositions yet. As frontman Luke Spiller proclaims, Pretty Vicious is a meticulously crafted exhibit of each member’s virtuosic talents, standing as a high point in their career.
“Too Good at Raising Hell,” the album’s opening sounds, is a swashbuckling reflection on the excesses of rock stardom. Here, Spiller’s dynamic vocals are front and center, in full display, his persona embodying the song’s rebellious spirit. Adam Slack’s guitar work—a fusion of gritty British tone and melodic sagacity—alongside Jamie Binns (bass) and Rafe Thomas (drums) rhythmic anchor, set the stage for an album that nods to the past while winking at the future.
The title track, “Pretty Vicious,” is a change in pace with its genre-blending, marrying ’80s Britpop sensibilities with a modern flair. Slack’s crisp guitar work counterpoints Spiller’s charismatic vocal delivery, which dances across the melody with the grace of a seasoned frontman’s attitude. The production shines, ensuring each instrument’s sonic is heard and appreciated, particularly during the bridge—a momentary respite before the song reignites with renewed vigor.
As the album ventures into the slick and stylish domains of Britpop and New Wave with “I Won’t Run” and “Hands on Me,” its radio-ready hooks are undeniable, crafted to invigorate and inspire. “Do What You Want” delves deeper into the blues, channeling the raw edge of The Rolling Stones while showcasing Spiller’s vocal theatrics and the band’s knack for poignant lyricism.
“Rockstar” marks another high point in The Struts’ exploratory journey. Its build-up—a synergistic crescendo of rhythm and voice—gives way to a riff that’s both contemporary and timeless. The track epitomizes the album’s sonic narrative: it’s bold, it’s infectious, and it captivates with an anthemic chorus that demands attention.
In The Struts’ latest adventure, where rock’s alchemy is chronicled, Pretty Vicious is a bold standard for Contemporary Britrock. The Struts deliver a vibrant mosaic of sounds, each track glinting with clarity, and the styles are diverse and well done. The quartet has embraced the glossy sheen of ‘radio-friendly’ melodies—they’ve forged a new link in the Glam rock chain, tempered with modern rock’s steel. Pretty Vicious is signaling for today’s discerning listener as The Struts invites us to listen, experience, and connect to the narrative they’re writing with the bold ink of contemporary giants.
Release Date: November 3, 2023
Label: Big Machine Label Group