For many in Southern California, Joshua Tree is the perfect place to escape — from the hustle and bustle of the city, from the anxieties of modern life, from technology, or from yourself. But when Los Angeles band the Regrettes shacked up in Joshua Tree for 10 days during the pandemic, they found that the desert wasn’t the perfect place to escape, but rather to turn inward, reflect and brainstorm ideas for their upcoming third album.
“You’re So Fucking Pretty,” the newest single from the group, is one result of that transformative writing retreat — a brutally honest confessional ballad that captures the Regrette’s effortless transformation from teenage punks into pop powerhouses.
The candid track is lead singer Lydia Night’s love letter to an unrequited crush — a female friend who Night never truly explored her attraction to, to some regret. Dreamlike and sensual, the song crescendos into a swirl of reverb-laden piano chords as Night reflects on what might have been: “Your fingertips run down my spine/I think about it late at night, wishing you were mine,” she sings. “My younger heart was feeling blue/But now, when I look back I know exactly what I’d do.”
The video accompanying the song’s release, directed by Serena Reynolds, finds Night home alone and restless — pacing from room to room, attempting to distract herself from the banality of the objects around her. It’s a scenario that feels a little too familiar these days, yet the viewer’s proximity to Night’s psychological tug-of-war is still unsettlingly intimate.
“There’s something that never gets old to me about watching someone and sort of invading their space. I tried to play it very genuine — how I have interacted with my house when I’m alone and dealing with a lot of regret or anxiety,” Night explains. “We’ve never really done a video like that.”
The song sprung from a single phrase guitarist Genessa Gariano brought into a writing session — “Spin the bottle, will I be enough?” — which prompted Night to reflect on the unresolved emotions and insecurities surrounding her sexuality she still carried from her high school years.
“I shared a lot about feeling really invalid calling myself bi or being part of any sort of queer community,” she says. “It’s sad to think about your younger self and think about how much fear stopped me from doing certain things — and also not only fear, but just, like, confusion. I was very confused about where those feelings were coming from.”
Allowing herself to confront and acknowledge her bisexuality in such a vocal, uncompromising manner ultimately gave Night the ability to more fully channel her emotions and experiences into her music. “In the past, I had always credited myself for being really vulnerable with my songwriting,” she says. “But this is the first time where, in writing, I realized, ‘Oh, I’ve had a wall up.’ Even though I thought I was writing in a certain way, I really didn’t go into those darker places because I didn’t know myself as well.”
Despite the vulnerability that inspired “You’re So Fucking Pretty,” the track originally hid its emotional core behind the Regrettes’ signature upbeat, pop-driven sound. “What’s so funny is we wrote it as a very dancey song,” Night shares, stating that when the band played the original demo for producer Tim Pagnotta, he suggested a completely different approach. “He was very much like, ‘This song is kind of heartbreaking. We should make it feel pretty heartbreaking.’ And we started playing it on piano — and instantly, it all clicked.”
Night is quick to highlight the importance of that collaborative moment, sharing how the tweak helped inject new life into the single. “It’s funny because, not to point fingers, but this was one of the demos that I really had to fight to even get recorded. I just felt like the song was really special,” she says. “The second that people heard it in this new light, people really understood it. It was really cool, because it felt like we made the right decision.”
Devotees of the band have been quick to embrace the Regrettes’ pivot to an unapologetically pop sound, and reaction to “You’re So Fucking Pretty” has given Night inspiration to further improve her own relationship with herself. “The response that we’ve gotten from our fans has been really incredible,” she says. “My immediate reaction is, like, ‘I really hope that they find that validation they need from the song.’ But then I’m instantly reminded, ‘Oh, I should also take my own advice.’ I feel like a really great way to learn about yourself is giving advice and realizing you’re not taking it yourself.”