Photo: Garrett Herzfeld / Petrov
October 23, 2020
Petrov burst onto the scene in late 2018, and quickly became a staple at local venues, before releasing their debut EP Sleep Year in early 2019. The indie pop-punk rock band creates an energetic blend of distorted guitars, thundering drums, and driving bass for vocalist Mary Grace McKusick to belt it out. Petrov has been honing their skills, developing their sound, and growing tighter as a group over their two years of performing, and now they return with their sophomore EP, Flower Bed.
Their songs continue to be propulsive, with Garrett Herzfeld and Matt McConomy holding down the grooves on drums and bass respectively, while guitarists Syd Little and Mike Backlund trade off riffs over top. It’s the kind of music that’s made to be heard in sweaty, crowded clubs with youthful energy, dancing and singing along. The chorus of “Keepers” just begs to be shouted out at the top of your lungs, something that the band would certainly embrace if the circumstances around Flower Bed’s release were different.
“There is just nothing that will ever replace the feelings of community and the sensation you get to experience when at an in-person concert,” Herzfeld said. “I suppose live streaming and socially-distanced drive-in gigs have their benefits, like less gear-moving and less late weeknights, but we’d still gladly accept any of the normal ‘cons’ of regular gigs to be able to play like we used to.”
One of the most evident changes upon listening to Flower Bed is how much cleaner and more polished the production is compared to their debut EP. On EP opener “Outlier” are dreamy, reverb-drenched guitars lines and harmonics. These dense, layered guitars lay a strong sonic foundation before the song jolts into action with McKusick’s confident vocals firmly on top of the mix.
Where Sleep Year teetered into lo-fi territory, the new batch of songs sound absolutely pristine. Herzfeld credits this maturation of fidelity to their growth as a band, as well as some additional time to tinker with new sounds in the studio. “We really loved working with Kenny McWilliams at Archer Avenue Studios in Columbia, SC. He really took the time to make sure everything sounded as good as it possibly can, and he humored us with our sound experimentation,” he said. “The biggest change between the first and second EPs would probably be the amount of time we got to spend in the studio recording and mixing.”
Lyrically, McKusick continues to write confessional, personal themes in a unique way that makes them universal. Taking on difficult topics such as relationships and sexual assault, she writes with the effortlessness of a seasoned songwriter, despite Petrov being the first group that she has fronted. Themes of personal growth and self-examination run throughout the songs, with references to “finding the person that [she’s] meant to be” on “Outliers,” breaking her old habits on “New Routine,” and learning to be comfortable and embrace her own company on “Pink Moon.”
She, along with the rest of the band, show a new side of themselves on EP closer “New Routine,” the closest thing to a ballad that the group has released so far. Her vocals are more restrained in contrast to their usual power, while the instrumentals create a dreamy, atmospheric bed for her to croon over. It’s an intriguing change of pace for the band, and the wailing crescendo toward the end of the song brings Flower Bed to a satisfying close.
Flower Bed is an improvement over the already impressive work that Petrov’s released, and there are many who helped bring the EP to life. Joshua Robbins and Sarah Blumenthal of Self Aware Records provided guidance and assistance, and released both of the band’s EPs through their label. The beautiful embroidery used for the album cover was created by local artist lllilllstitches. And, of course, the recordings couldn’t have sounded as immaculate without the assistance of Kenny Williams of Archer Avenue Studio and Dave Harris with Studio B Mastering.
If Flower Bed is any indication, Petrov is a band to watch in the coming years. Their writing is growing more focused and deliberate, striking a balance between busy guitar riffs and giving the vocals room to breathe. It’s a brief yet powerful collection of new material, and showcases the talent and potential of a young band on the rise.