Pretty Girls Make Graves’ second full-length, New Romance (Matador), leads off with the jittery, expansive statement of purpose “Something Bigger, Something Brighter,” an indication of the raised emotional stakes this Seattle quintet is playing for–no diffident indie rock shuffles for them, no ma’am. Not that last year’s Good Health was a model of reticence–the opening track, “Speakers Push the Air,” celebrated the power of music (“And nothing else matters when I turn it up loud”) with a passion more heartfelt than corny–but their weakness for power-pop shortcuts and Andrea Zollo’s riot-grrl vocal tics dampened the music’s immediacy. This time around guitarists Nathen Johnson and Jason Clark shoot darts at each other, and the music’s drama is as much a result of the ensuing tangles of guitar as it is the swell of the choruses. And Zollo’s vocals are less cute, less staccato, more her own. She’s a troubled girl, not a rebel girl, with an admitted need to manufacture intensity (“Hello, I’m erotic / Creating problems that don’t exist,” she sings on “Blue Lights,” an effective slow burn) and to cultivate the aura of romantic doom you’d expect from a band named for a Smiths tune. A lot is made of the members’ pedigrees (bassist Derek Fudesco jumped ship from the Murder City Devils, Clark was in Kill Sadie, Zollo was in the Death Wish Kids and Area 51, and Johnson and drummer Nick Dewitt come from the Bee Hive Vaults), as though this were a Blind Faith for the aughts, but the supergroups of old could be safe havens for coddled egos, while Pretty Girls Make Graves forge a band identity. Drama kings and queens though they are, when they declare “This Is Our Emergency,” the key word is “our.” Thursday, October 30, 6 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton; 773-975-0505.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Lavine.