In their short career, Pretty Girls Make Graves resolutely hit all the indie-rock bases. They were born in Seattle from the remnants of other bands (good other bands—among them Murder City Devils, Kill Sadie, the Death Wish Kids and the Hookers) that never really registered aboveground. Their name reveals a trail of artistic influence (The Smiths' song title was ripped from Jack Kerouac). They signed up with boom-and-bust Bay Area punk label Lookout! Records before they departed for the proud ranks of Matador. They recorded a Peel session. They released three albums, plus a bitchen debut EP. One of these was 2003's The New Romance, a tome of anxiety told via murky grooves and militia beats. And just like that (imagine a tiny, breathy "poof" sound here), they're gone.
A consummate West Coast post-punk band, if there is such a thing, Pretty Girls Make Graves excelled in the art of providing a rigidly measured scaffolding of rhythm for Andrea Zollo's I-mean-this-shit vocals and decisive, mathematical guitars, all of which were tempered by some dark water reminiscent of the Decemberists (from Portland) and Black Mountain (from Vancouver, and with whom they share a producer). When drummer Nick Dewitt announced he was leaving the band, Pretty Girls Make Graves broke up. Before packing it in, the ensemble (who added keyboardist Leona Marrs before recording Élan Vital, their last album) have committed to an unusually extensive farewell tour. This is, perhaps, a political move, intended to remind audiences that the members of the band are adroit musicians (evidenced in the sticky web of their band histories, in addition to the recorded proof) who are more than likely just moving on to the next thing.