Jessica Pratt 2024
Photo: Renee Parkhurst / Pitch Perfect PR

Jessica Pratt Addresses the Mystery Found in the Pitch

On Here in the Pitch, indie folk’s Jessica Pratt offers an aural world where opposites are part of the whole. The best interpretation is to accept the mystery.

Here in the Pitch
Jessica Pratt
Mexican Summer
3 May 2024

Jessica Pratt‘s newest album, Here in the Pitch, possesses a dark beauty. The songs quietly disturb. Something seems off, yet this very unsettling nature makes one pay close attention. The internal contradictions suggest the complexity of seemingly simple feelings of attraction. One can be simultaneously enticed and repulsed; the two aspects are inseparable.

The material is intentionally enigmatic. Here in the Pitch begins with pounding percussion, yet it is essentially a quiet creation. Pratt employs everything from a glockenspiel and a Mellotron imitating other orchestral sounds to her bare voice and other solo instruments to produce an intimate atmosphere. The recording studio seems essential to the creation, even as the artifice calls attention to itself.

Pratt has said the production was influenced by records such as the Beach BoysPet Sounds. That can be heard in the mix of quiet, strange, and fussy elements, where each instrument carries equal weight with the silence. In songs such as “Empires Never Know”, “Nowhere It Was”, and “Get Your Head Out”, the music slowly builds and falls in layered ways. The swaying rhythms are magnetic, but one never knows when they will drop out or what is next. Is that raindrops or a metronome? The mystery of what one hears and when and if the sound will reemerge offers auditory pleasure. Consider Brian Wilson using a bicycle bell on “You Still Believe in Me” as a thematic forbearer.

The lyrics share that same inscrutability. The first words on Here in the Pitch are “Life is, it’s never what you think it’s for” and purposely remain cryptic. Lines such as “I want to be a vestige of our senses free”, “Some people chip away time more than they understand an open hand”, and “I used to want for what your desolation hadn’t come by” are typical in their unknowability. Pratt sings quietly in a low register. That endows the words with a formality and offers solace. She may not understand the world, herself, or other people. The listener may be confused. But the overall impression is that everything is and will be all right.

The penultimate cut reinforces this notion, the instrumental “Glances”. Jessica Pratt plucks a simple, repetitive melody on guitar over two muted French horns that mimic the sound of waves gently breaking at the beach. That fits Here in the Pitch‘s soothing nature, even as other tracks offer mixed messages.

Take the song with the bellicose title “Better Hate”. Pratt sings over a samba beat that evokes sophistication, reinforced by Al Carlson’s baritone sax playing. The singer croons, “I’m no longer friends with the enemies I’m so tenderly waiting for”, as if love is just a game. The song ends with Pratt wordlessly scatting over a gently strummed acoustic guitar. There is something odd going on. Pratt equates lovers with enemies as if that is just how love is. Her resignation is disquieting.

On Here in the Pitch, Jessica Pratt offers an aural world where opposites are part of the whole. The word “pitch” can have multiple meanings. No direct references to the record’s title are made in any of its songs. Is she referring to darkness, sound, sales, or even baseball? Instead, the best interpretation seems to accept the mystery. That’s life, she sings.

RATING 8 / 10