Petey's 'USA' Is a Coming-of-Rage Marvel
Internet sensation Petey has finally released his major label debut album, USA, and it’s just as much prose as it is an indie rock masterpiece.
I’ve recently been introduced to the movie trope, “coming-of-rage,” a mid-life cousin of coming-of-age that deals with the tantrums of adulthood from the perspective of one who’s already deep in it. Petey’s USA feels like the sonic embodiment of coming-of-rage, grieving a life that’s still being lived through the lens of midwest emo fusions.
USA kicks off with an instrumental invitation to the sonic landscape of the album, using an emotive string arrangement to build tension. The stirring orchestration then rises and breaks into “I’ll Wait,” leading listeners into Petey’s indie rock rampage. The flow of these tracks captures the duality of Petey’s style perfectly; while “Bags Theme” bares its soul with sentimentality, “I’ll Wait” barrels through that delicacy, turning to coarse melodies and brazen instrumentals to express the frustrations of life.
“I Tried to Draw a Straight Line” embodies the anxieties discussed throughout USA, like the insecurity of your own worth and the simultaneously meaningless and momentous impact of your life. It leans into Petey’s pop capabilities with a catchy hook and electronic drums. Next, “Home Alone House” and “Skip This One” continue to push style boundaries with vocals that range from artistically auto-tuned to sounding like they were recorded live in a stairwell. Petey pours emotion into every aspect of his writing, from the lyrics to the arrangement to the meticulous recording techniques.
“Did I Mention I’m Sorry” and “How Bout That” are two of the best demonstrations of the folk-rock artist’s lyrical genius. The former displays Petey’s informal and intimate tone, tumbling through an argument in real-time. Meanwhile, “How Bout That” shows his mastery of conversational poetry, lacing existentialism into casual lines like, “It’s not your fault, it just happened / There’s no other way to take it / Spilled a coffee on a laptop / Probably time for some erasing.”
Over a meditation of a guitar loop, “Birds of a Feather” leans into the anxieties of being a musician, and Petey performs the last verse with a cry threatening to overtake his voice, once again delivering an unbridled intimacy. Next, “Living Like This” embodies regret in advance, feeling stuck and unable to make the most of your life. “The thought of dying ain’t bad / Yeah, the sad part is living like this,” sings Petey.
As USA reaches its final destination, Petey lets go of any lingering restraint. “Family of Six” bears the weight of one’s actions, beginning to crumble as the artist ponders over a synth loop. Then, beloved standout single, “The Freedom to Fuck Off” personifies the frustrations of existing with raging drums and anthemic guitar riffs. The lyrics spiral and contradict themselves with intentional hypocrisy as Petey discusses love, family, and self through a lens of crooked faith. Finally, “Goodnight Nurse” bids USA a haunting, yet peaceful farewell, and Petey closes out this expansive piece of art, just as it started—fully intentional and genuine in every musical and storytelling aspect.
Listen to USA below: