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.