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Petty Human Emotions are an alt rock quintet from Los Angeles, and they’re getting set to release their debut self-titled album May 19th. Influenced by the likes of Nirvana, Weezer, and Radiohead, the band floats somewhere between a number of 90s indie genres without ever pigeonholing themselves into a single sound. Nevertheless, the songs feature heart-on-their-sleeve lyrics that would make Thom Yorke proud, while alternating between acoustic and grungy dynamics à la In Utero. With stripped back production that verges on lo-fi at times, the focus is firmly on guitarist and vocalist James Nardiello’s songs about “melancholy, longing and loneliness.”
The group includes atypical instruments, using everything from the theremin to a cat keyboard, augmenting and raising up songs like the opener “Something New” that would otherwise be more standard acoustic dirges, and it’s a brilliant move seen in the past from artists like Leonard Cohen. On the harder songs including “I Want” and “Madison Ave” there’s an incredible knack for a strong pop hook lurking just under the surface, but the band is also just as capable at constructing heartwrenching epics, as seen on the tempestuous eight-minute closer “I’m Still Here.” Petty Human Emotions is a remarkably sprawling and diverse work of art for a group’s debut, and points definitively to even grander things on the horizon.