25 February 2013
by Ollie Connors
Okay, so quick survey – hands up who likes loud music? That’s all of you then. So hands up if you like music so loud, so abrasive, so goddamned filthy it makes you feel uneasy just listening to it? Well, just for you lot, Pennsylvania’s Pissed Jeans release their third full-length “Honeys”. This ain’t for the faint of heart – the fearsome foursome play an equal parts exhilarating, equal parts terrifying mix of hardcore punk and noise rock, sounding like Flipper, The Jesus Lizard and Shellac in a back-alley, Special Brew-drenched bumfight. The label responsible for this racket are Sub Pop, the Seattle-based home of the progenitors of grunge, counting Nirvana, Mudhoney and Soundgarden amongst their alumni. Sub Pop may have strayed from their roots somewhat of late, but Pissed Jeans here keep them firmly in check.
The album begins with a bass so low in the register it’s equatable to “brown noise”, and ‘Bathroom Laughter”s frantic riff kicks in, drums crashing and guitars screeching under vocalist Matt Korvette’s anguished wails. Following up 2009’s sublime King Of Jeans seemed an impossible task, but the band have taken to the task like a duck to water by compromising absolutely nothing. ‘Vain In Costume’ wraps the capillary-bursting aggression of My War-era Black Flag in a layer of glorious noise, following on from the snarling ‘Romanticize Me’, a number that could teach those considered at the forefront of raw punk rock, namely The Bronx and Fucked Up, a thing or two.
This record instantly creates a claustrophobic, walled-in atmosphere that doesn’t let up the whole way through, as evidenced by album centrepiece ‘Cafeteria Food’, the haunting clean vocal putting one in the mind of gloomy luminaries Ian Curtis and Nick Cave. This is a truly harrowing listen from start to finish, Korvette’s deadpan, morose lyrics driving this unstoppable juggernaut through 13 tracks of the height of listening displeasure. The concrete slabs of glorious noise keep on raining down on your forehead, putting Pissed Jeans’ spin on all the favourite parts of your collection – ‘Male Gaze’ emulates the lurch and sprawl of Melvins, ‘Loubs’ is the perverted masterpiece Queens Of The Stone Age never wrote, and ‘Health Plan’ has the magnitude of thrash energy to get anyone who’s ever owned a DC hardcore record to headbang wildly.
This album may incorporate a miasma of different sounds, but at the core there is a coherence to this record that retains a certain density throughout, and, other than fairly worthless interludes ‘Chain Worker’ and ‘Something About Mrs Johnson’, never falters in living up to the extremely high bar Pissed Jeans set with their first two records. Brutal, uncompromising and unrelentingly vicious, albums like this are why punk rock started out and what everyone should expect from it, at the very least. This record will most certainly not be for everyone, but Pissed Jeans prefer it that way – this is a multi-faceted assault, and precious few escape unscathed. A contender for record of the year in February? You bet your sweet ass.
Sounds Like: Rubbing your face in dog shit and broken glass for 40 minutes, and fucking loving it.
Standout Tracks: Bathroom Laughter, Vain In Costume, Health Plan