New Music Recs: “Did I Mention I’m Sorry” by Petey

I reviewed Petey’s album Lean into Life when it came out, and it’s been intermittently on repeat ever since. (Like last month, for example; I’ll get to my Monthly Obsessions soon.) His latest single, “Did I Mention I’m Sorry” came on a mix and so I thought I’d review it here.

To be honest, I almost didn’t recognize the song as a Petey song. It’s slower and quieter than much of Lean, yet in an interesting contrast, Petey himself sings faster and breathier. On Lean, his voice is a loud yelp that’s incredibly earnest without being harsh. The chorus of “Sorry” features a ghost of that yelp, which is when I finally recognized it as a Petey single. You hear his same earnestness here; it’s even in the song title.

Petey covers themes of nostalgia (“More to Life Than Baseball”) and confronting the past (“Don’t Tell the Boys”) mixed with the mundane elements of life (“Apple TV Remote”). “Sorry” is mostly about the past and addressing a bygone relationship. He so expertly walks the line between wanting to say sorry and deflecting it as sarcasm. His vulnerability is one of the reasons why I love his music.

“Lean into Life” by Petey – Album Review

I’ve been keeping an eye on Petey’s career ever since I heard the single “Pitch a Fit!” several months ago. He came out with an EP, Other Stuff, back in June, and now he’s released his debut album Lean into Life.

The album kicks off with “California,” which has to be my favorite song on Lean into Life. It sets the tone. We meet Petey’s soft twang, which tends to veer into a heartfelt, exuberant yelp. He also tells us about what got him here: he drove out west to chase his dreams – and escape a relationship. I love the clever lyrics: “I’d rather be depressed in California/Ocean’s got the only blues I need.” The video for the song shows the joy that has made Petey so popular on TikTok; we see him waving to the camera, diving into the ocean, singing with his arms around his friends.

“DON’T TELL THE BOYS” is such a sweet song about male friendship and how it can be deep. It manages to avoid “no homo” overtones, which is refreshing. Instead, he and his friends watch The O.C. together and Petey promises that “I’ll always be your lending ear…we’ve got each other till the end.” This song also displays how elastic Petey’s voice is: he softens down into vocal fry territory towards the end.

Petey’s music is reflective. In “Pitch a Fit!”, he admits that “I can’t even order a pizza without having a panic attack.” That loneliness appears again in “Apple TV Remote,” where we learn that he only keeps in touch with a friend through Venmo. (“More to Life than Baseball,” from Other Stuff, describes another faded friendship.)

Even the title track “Lean into Life” veers between joy and sadness about how peoples’ lives sometimes turn out. Petey references the 27 Club and how “It’s beginning to feel like I’ve/Been training my whole life for nothing…” One wonders if, when he says “You gotta lean into life a bit,” he’s actually talking to himself.

The album closes on a quiet note. “Tell The Boys” is a purely instrumental track. It was actually a little odd to listen to something without his voice. I enjoyed it though; the song feels experimental, veering from one muffled electronic note to the other.

Petey’s work feels honest in a way I haven’t heard an artist be in quite awhile. His long hair gives his lyrics something of a Messianic quality, as though he’s observing society from a distance and telling it like it is. I’m looking forward to his future releases.

Covers Corner: “Crash Into Me” by Petey

I went digging into the Terrible Records Bandcamp page the other day as part of writing my post on Alaska Reid. It brought up a single by the eclectic artist Petey called “Crash Into Me.” Hmm, I thought. That can’t be a cover of the Dave Matthews Band song, can it?

Of course it was, and I’m so glad I clicked on it. I feel like a lot of covers are acoustic; there are so many coffee shop playlists out there that testify to that. Petey’s take on “Crash” is electronic. I really enjoy that uniqueness. It starts out with a little bouncy beat that fades out into a more solid groove.

Petey alters his voice into something much softer than what you hear on his popular single “Pitch a Fit!” It sounds flat and robotic, but not in a bad way at all; it’s cushioned by the gentle buoyancy of the song. That’s why when you hear him sing “in a boy’s dream,” it really does sound like a dream. It creates a newfound tenderness in the lines about kissing.

He has a twang in his voice that comes out really strongly in “Pitch a Fit!” – “so ya wanna pitch a fit, ya-ha?” – and works impressively well in his cover of “Crash,” too. It glides so smoothly over the lines “sweet you rock and sweet you roll” and sticks the landing. He doesn’t include the bridge with “I’m the king of the castle,” etc., but I didn’t mind that at all. Some covers drag things out too long; Petey’s is short and sweet.

One of the best things about covers is that it makes you see the original song in a completely different way. The Dave Matthews version always gave me a slightly Nice Guy vibe. Maybe it’s the lyrics about watching the subject of the song through the window and wondering if he’s gone overboard. Petey left those lyrics out, too in this cover, and in so doing, you just really feel his helplessness, yet eagerness. I’ll still listen to the original, but in all honesty, Petey’s daydreamy take is more of a win for me.

Give it a listen here: