Poema - Pretty Speeches [REVIEW]

Poema – Pretty Speeches [REVIEW]

Poema’s Pretty Speeches is the rare perfectly titled record. On the surface, the EP from Nashville sisters Elle and Shealeen Puckett is all gorgeous instrumentation and haunting vocals, but the songs themselves are full of heartache, regret and the pain of the past. It’s a remarkably mature and sonically diverse record from a relatively new group, and shows that the duo has a tremendous future ahead of them.

The project begins with “Go Away,” a smooth, forthright track that highlights the Pucketts’ emotive voices, and the bright, sunny acoustic guitar that soaks the EP. But, as with the rest of Pretty Speeches, “Go Away” resonates deeper with repeat listens. The song builds to a hypnotic synth breakdown and then a beefed-up version of the chorus with glimmers of electric guitar as the lyrics about the frustration of a non-committal partner come full circle.

“Enough Messing Around” follows a similar theme, but augments the familiar guitar with a bed of electric piano and some more freewheeling licks. There’s a self-awareness and intelligence to both the lyricism and delivery of Poema’s lyrics that elevates what could be a routine song about failed love into much more.

The breezy, easygoing sound has a certain 70s nostalgia to it, not unlike surefire comparison Haim, but Poema is not a group content just to capitalize off familiar sounds. The EP’s first single and best track, “Forget You in LA” has a surprisingly punchy bass line, and a much more contemporary indie sound that sounds a little like Broken Bells or Beach House. It’s a record about getting a fresh start, but there’s a degree of shimmering West Coast nostalgia that lets you know that such a thing may not truly be possible.

“Get to Me” demonstrates more sonic versatility, with a bossa nova drum rhythm, and even more strong guitar work. It doesn’t have quite the same heft as some of Pretty Speeches’ other tracks, but it’s a fun song that highlights the girls’ vocal harmonies well.

Pretty Speeches concludes with the magnificent ballad “Madeline.” The track begins practically as a suggestion, with the girls singing barely above a whisper and the faint sound of acoustic strumming in the background. But as the track progresses and the narrative crystallizes, the sound picks up, emerging with rolling drums and a wonderful mandolin flourish.

“Madeline” features Poema’s sharpest lyricism, it’s a rueful tale of deceit and a vivid picture of the titular character. The song breaks down into an unexpected Tobias Jesso, Jr. style piano solo at its conclusion and brings the EP to a moving close.

If Pretty Speeches is any indication, Poema has the potential to make a huge mark on music. Their sound is rooted in a slew of dynamic influences, and the sisters’ chemistry oozes out of every beat. Definitely keep these girls on your radar, and their new record playing.