EP review ~ pretty cartel ~ "tales of the working class"

EP Review
Pretty Cartels
Tales of the Working Class

For a band that have been together for little over a year, Pretty Cartels have certainly been busy. Constant gigging around Belfast’s musical hotspots was followed up by the release of their first single, “The Busker”, which has made big waves amongst the big-wigs of the local music scene, even being chosen as the official anthem for the “BackinBelfast” campaign (which also won the band substantial airplay in the process ~ and left Citybeat inundated with calls as to the identity of the mystery band behind the tune!). All that was left to cap off a fine start by any group’s standards, was the launch of their debut EP, “Tales of the Working Class”. It’s fair to say I was rather excited to finally hear it!

The EP opens cleverly, with white noise and brief flashes of sound before bursting into life with screaming electric guitars and a bluesy overtone. The bands complex vocal harmonies are evident from the outset, but it’s the solidarity of their rhythm section which is perhaps the most impressive. “She’s The One” kicks the record into life, but the energetic and upbeat solos from Neal Connor’s guitar wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the watertight synergy between bass and drum, which gives the track it’s foot tapping charm. One can imagine that this would be an excellent live song.
“Diamonds and Rainbows” shows a more folksy side to the Cartels. A beautifully syncopated drum intro again highlights why Davy Braniff is held in such high regard, as a fast paced acoustic guitar drives the tune forward. The song carries an upbeat vibe, not a million miles away from American chart act The Lumineers, which captures the relentlessly positive attitude of the working class, living up to the EP’s title.
The Cartel’s then display their rockier edge with the beautiful “Holyman”. An atmospheric track, filled with rocky guitar riffs that somehow blend seamlessly with a stunningly subtle string section. This is a tune that would not have looked out of place on a Travis album, the guitar solo towards the end of the song a particular highlight, showing the bands diverse range of influences. A hidden gem.
This is followed by the song which has slowly grown to be considered their signature tune, the wonderfully acclaimed track of the “Backin Belfast” campaign, “The Busker”. A Noel Gallagher esc acoustic guitar intro paves the way for one of the most rhythmic and catchy songs your likely to hear this year. With radio friendly lyrics such as “just put a penny in his case, he’ll put a smile onto your face”, “The Busker” is a song for the family. Paying clever homage to The Beatles (“he’ll sing a song from Let It Be”) and making an obvious reference to Belfast, show that the Pretty Cartels have written what must surely be their biggest crowd pleaser.
The final track, “Light Shines Through”, is an emotional piano number which alludes to the bands more serious side. With a Damon Albarn style arrangement, this song drifts beautifully, giving Dee McIlroy’s strong vocals a chance to take center stage. As the track builds towards its climax the rising and gentle fall of the violins give it a Badly Drawn Boy effect, the abrupt ending suggesting that there is so much more of the Cartels to come. If they can sustain some of this emotional fragility there could be a very bright future ahead for the Lisburn lads. More of the same please!
Review by Taylor Johnson.  
Check out “Tales of the Working Class” here: http://prettycartel.bandcamp.com/album/tales-of-the-working-class
Keep up to date with all things Cartel here: https://www.facebook.com/prettycartel/info

If you like: Travis, The Lumineers, Bell X1
You'll like Pretty Cartels 

"Tales of the Working Class" is the debut from the Lisburn lads.


  1. Well said. I love this album.

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