This album seems the kind of thing I would out and out pan (ugh, another group from New York with girls playing ukuleles), yet I can’t help but love it. A friend posted The Prettiots’ npr tiny desk rendition of Boys (That I Dated in Highschool) a few weeks ago and I was a fast fan. The tune was catchy, the girls (Kay Kasparhauser, uke and vocals, and Lulu Prat, bass) seemed super cool, and it didn’t take me long to realize I knew just the types of boys described. Their humor, super memorable melodies, and bits a perfect blend of close to home and self-aware struck just the right chord.
One might have expected the rest of the Funs Cool to follow in cheeky suit, but there’s a pretty great variety of moods represented. Suicide Hotline takes a frank and refreshing look at feelings of depression. With lyrics like, ‘I’m not fine but I’ll be ok, I probably won’t kill myself today,’ and ‘but it feels like shit right now so just let me whine,’ amongst comparative descriptions of the ways in which Plath, Woolf, and Hemingway killed themselves, the track could go snarky or overly self-pitying; rather, it evades the sometimes secondhand embarrassment of confessional songwriting and delivers pathos and a reminder that one is not alone.
Peppered with pop culture references from Herzog to Law and Order: SVU, the album is an exemplary model of personal songwriting done right. It’s not sappy or overly cute, not trying too hard or lisping from under a fringe with utmost self-consciousness. The girls give the impression they’re having a great time and we’ve been lucky enough to be invited to hang out. Much is made of artists being ‘relatable’ or ‘approachable,’ and it often comes off as contrived at best. The girls have achieved it here without making it seem like they’re trying too hard; in making work highly personal, they hit on points that evoke both, ‘oh thank god other people do do that,’ and ‘oh my god my friends and I totally do that.’
10-10 Would Chill Again is the perfect closer for this album. Recalling albums like The GTO’s Permanent Damage, it’s an assemblage of quotations from conversations between the girls and over the phone that solidifies the spirit of the album. It’s fun, it’s absolutely of its time, and it’s not unlikely that one has unknowingly recited at least one or two of their lines to a pal before. It can be difficult to capture that feeling of girls hanging out with their friends, but they pull it off masterfully.
So, sure, maybe confessional, cool-girls-with-ukuleles style pop harks back a little too much to 2007 but at nearly a decade ago, it must be set to have a revival soon and with welcome exuberance. Plus, like, this album features a Dolly Parton cover, so what more can you really want?
Funs Cool is available now on Rough Trade.