Pennsylvanian noisemakers Pissed Jeans release their fifth LP through Subpop. Matt Korvette and co. have been churning out their brand of post-hardcore since the mid-noughties and Why Love Now promises to continue in a similar vein. Korvette, Brad Fry (guitar), Randy Huth (bass) and Sean McGuinness (drums) met in school and have been terrorising audiences and eardrums ever since.
No Wave legend Lydia Lunch shacked up in Philadelphia to produce Why Love Now alongside local metal legend Arthur Rizk: “I knew she wasn’t a traditional producer,” Korvette says of Lunch. “I like how she’s so cool and really intimidating. She ended up being so fucking awesome and crazy. She was super into it, constantly threatening to bend us over the bathtub. I’m not really sure what that entails, but I know she probably wasn’t joking.”
Lunch and Rizk helped to mold what Korvette has described as: “the musical equivalent to watching a toilet flush.” Their last album, Honeys, was described by Musos’ Guide as “what hardcore punk sounds like in the 21st century.” Why Love Now sustains their individual aural assault. It starts with a chorus of screams before Korvette’s Bob Mould meets Lemmy vocals drawl over a downtuned, industrial soundscape. And Why Love Now doesn’t get much more pleasant or listenable than that. It’s Pissed Jeans, what do you expect?
Producer Lydia Lunch makes her mark from the off as Korvette’s voice is put through the mill; warped and distended through ‘Waiting On My Horrible Warning’. All of which makes ‘The Bar Is Low’ even more of a shocker. The lead single from the band’s fifth album is a bouncy rock 'n' roll number with crunchy, crisp guitars courtesy of Rizk. Pissed Jeans update Alice Cooper’s seventies pop-rock sound and throw in a singalong end section to boot.
Hearing them play like this is like seeing Picasso’s pencil drawings; the experimental nature of their usual work is underpinned by an understanding of convention. Pissed Jeans are well capable of producing catchy tunes, they just choose not to. There’s a kinship with the likes of Future Of The Left. PJ set out to confront, to be angry, to examine life; things that conventional rock won’t satisfactorily express.
Why Love Now examines sexual politics and the nature of relationships in the digital age. ‘Ignorecam’ looks at a particular fetish and the ability we all have now to explore unusual proclivities. ‘The Bar Is Low’ is “about how every guy seems to be revealing themselves as a shithead. It seems like every guy is getting outed,” Korvette continues:
“Across every board of entertainment and politics and music. There’s no guy that isn’t a total creep. You’re like, ‘No, he’s just a dude that hits on drunk girls and has sex with them when they’re asleep.’ Cool, he’s just an average shithead.”
‘I’m A Man’ sees author Lindsay Hunter (Ugly Girls) unleash a bizarre and unsettling stream of single entendres in a workplace environment. The spoken-word tirade over an equally stark and bellicose backing track. Elsewhere Korvette’s frustration with cubicle existence bubbles over in ‘Worldwide Marine Asset Financial Analyst’ and ‘Have You Ever Been Furniture’.
You know what you’re getting with Pissed Jeans. It’s loud, noisy, angry and unpleasant. It’s cathartic and absolutely necessary in 2017. Lunch and Rizk make the band sound rougher than high-grade sandpaper. Why Love Now is a difficult listen and, while the pill is sugared with the likes of ‘The Bar Is Low’ and ‘It’s Your Knees’, the balance is off. There isn’t enough tunefulness or groove to offset the nastiness and you find yourself skipping a good number of tracks. When it works, Why Love Now is innovative and the musical equivalent of punching the wall, but its inconsistency is frustrating.