Pissed Jeans Honeys(Sub Pop) Buy it from Insound
Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that punk bands run their own quotidian lives when they’re not spewing vile about precisely how taxing everyday life can be. Being on stage is what makes them, in a way, immortal, and releasing that energy may very well be what keeps them alive. The natural course is that they’ll grow out of it the older they get. But in the case of Allentown, Pennsylvania sludge rockers Pissed Jeans, the attribute of age opens a new window into their usually spiteful, but nonetheless shrewd observations.
It’s not that we’re in the presence of a band that’s softened around the edges for the sake of conformity. Perhaps it’s in a stylistic sense that we’ve come to expect what Pissed Jeans has to offer – hard-hitting, pummeling three-chord bashers that usually end with a scream of aggression. Otherwise, they function best as an unpredictably thematic punk band that disguises their smarts with crude, unpolished noise. Which turns the premise of anguished old punks aging somewhat irrelevant; and besides, age ain’t nothing but a number, right? And judging by album opener Bathroom Laughter, they still approach certain life events with a stroke of childlike tenacity – leader singer Korvette illustrates a girlfriend whose going through a panic attack, and instead of giving her comfort, it’s as if he’s that pesky kid pointing fingers from a distance and getting laughs at her expense.
After a vaguely nihilistic introduction, Honeys quickly turns into a loose cannon of literal, self-deprecating scorchers. Romanticize Me is about questioning one’s own manhood, and does so by suggesting the action of crushing one’s flaws like ruffling paper trash, as if doing so would dispel such complexities; forget having an open dialogue, Korvette's solution to reach a compromise in the relationship is, well, let's do it. When they’re not tackling the subject of relationships, Pissed Jeans amplify slice of life accounts with a portrayal of devastation – Cat house recounts the annoyance of dealing with cat allergies, while Health Plan is about coping with the tension of accepting that one’s physical build begins to debilitate with time.
All these topics resonate with a familiar echo to any Pissed Jeans aficionado, but it’s actually in the delivery where some may be in for a pleasant surprise. Whereas the faster, less opaque moments in King of Jeans were normally the exception, and it also rested somewhere in a middle ground, Honeys diverges in two outermost directions: the hollow drumming and grimy texture of Male Gaze and Chain Worker takes cues from filthy, bluesy doom metal, while the cathartic, thrashing pop of Vain in Costume and Cat House sweat out classic riffs with an unforeseen clearness as opposed to the over-amped distortion that surrounded their earlier efforts.
Honeys may be just another rash, blustering effort, but for the first time there’s a faint hint of accessibility seeping through the cracks. It may also be the first time that Pissed Jeans send a signal of appeasement, a message to those who may have been offended by their dickish intransigence. But that doesn’t necessarily restrict their freedom to communicate with unfiltered bluntness; it’s just that they’re slightly more conscious about how they manifest themselves. Above all else, they’re just trying to understand how such trivial, mundane matters can lead to such madness. Sitting in front of a desk for eight hours can elicit these thoughts; really, being on the clock is that tedious.