March 22, 2017 | By MARISSA LORUSSO
Skating Polly, the stepsister duo of Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse, often calls its music "ugly pop." It's a fitting description for songs that veer between sweet and catchy and full-throated screams with distorted, chug-a-lug guitar. The band's sound is deeply indebted to '90s grunge and alt-rock, but never comes across as pure imitation, perhaps because the duo viewed that era from the outside; when Skating Polly released its first album in 2011, both Mayo and Bighorse were still teens.
Recently, Skating Polly teamed up with Veruca Salt's co-frontwomen Louise Post and Nina Gordon, who helped the band write an EP called New Trick. "Hail Mary," the first song the band wrote for the new record, showcases Skating Polly's characteristic moodiness, as well the more subtle layers of harmonies that Post and Gordon brought to the new songs. "Hail Mary" opens with a heavy, bass-driven feel that lends it some gravity; as it progresses, layers of guitar build while Mayo and Bighorse's voices pack it down.
In an email to NPR Music, Skating Polly says the song is "about being addicted to poisonous people." Its horror-chic video fits the song's ominous mood perfectly. "We wanted the tone of the video to be somewhat serious, but not self-serious," Mayo and Bighorse explain. The result — which also features Mayo's brother Kurtis, who recently became the band's drummer — is vaguely haunted, quite uncanny and good, creepy fun.