There’s an old adage about Cincinnati that essentially states if you don’t care for the weather here, just wait five minutes. The same might be said of Pet Envy, the Nashville-based quintet with more flexibility than a 21-year-old yoga instructor and more range than a monarch butterfly. If you’re not drawn in by the band’s infectious Soul/Pop gyrations, wait for their next song and maybe you’ll be attracted by their Jazz flirtations or their ’70s AM Pop translations or their danceable Electropop solutions or their Folk/Indie Rock mash-ups or any of the other genre weapons in their estimable sonic arsenal.
Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of Pet Envy is the incredible sophistication and maturity that the band has developed in a relatively brief three-year span. The five-piece — vocalist Shelbi Albert, vocalist/guitarist Jake Diggity, vocalist/bassist Emma Lambiase, keyboardist Jordan Klatt, drummer Matthew Singler — obviously possesses a palpable chemistry, but they never seem content to coast on simple magnetism. On Pet Envy’s latest single, “MiddleMan,” Diggity makes his lead vocal debut, while he, Albert and Lambiase explore the possibilities of more elaborate three-part harmonies. The song also finds the band hewing closer to their stated Talking Heads/New Wave influences, where their previous EPs, 2016’s self-titled debut and last year’s five-song Flowers For Your Brain, seemed more in line with the Prince and Motown catalog inspirations they’ve claimed as equally important to their sound.
In the short time that Pet Envy has been together, they’ve amassed a loyal and rapidly increasing fan base and impressed critics with their effortless presentation and precise yet loose-limbed delivery; on the strength of their first EP and their growing live reputation, the band scored Best Pop Band honors at the 2016 Nashville Music Industry Awards. They have an irresistibly syncopated swagger and a freewheeling style that is vaguely reminiscent of Lake Street Dive, but more earthy and profane, as evidenced by the soaring Funk/Pop of “Lip Circus” from their first EP (“I’m blind to what’s in front of me, right the fuck in front of me”).
While you’re waiting for Cincinnati’s weather to adjust more to your liking, use that five minutes to check out Pet Envy, and be amazed at their chameleonic ability to inhabit the spirit of all the music you love.