Pissed Jeans – “Honeys”
Listening to Pissed Jeans newest release, Honeys, I am taken to a place where tight jean, tight shirt, tattooed ire-clad boys and girls are sweaty as all hell, moshing in their tiny garages or basements, just completely solemn, wild and sold on the noise. Chock full of all the screaming rage that the eighties punk movement had to offer with a twenty-first century polish, Matt Korvette continues to belt his angry little heart out. As a rule, bands typically grow as they age and when they do, they sometimes struggle to keep the freshness, the fresh wrath that got the kids so damn excited in the first place. Pissed Jeans holds onto the fuel and adds a spark of aging sentiment this go round.
Honeys keeps with the enduring fury-filled notes, but lightens the lyrics with raw honest emotion, Korvette expressing his tears in lyrics and inviting us to see a more slushy side to hardcore. He lets us know he “cries red, angry tears that no one sees.” In “Loubz,” he addresses his depression and in “Bathroom Laughter” and “Romanticize Me,” we feel a relationship building with an unknown subject. To reflect the more somber mood of its vocalist, the album is a little slower in beat as well. By slow, I mean like a starving Sasquatch cooing to his lover; it’s still pretty rough, just a tad more sensual, holding the notes longer when necessary. It’s an apathetic scene that is highly reminiscent of the nineties kids shaking their heads like wet mutts. They are still completely consumed with rage only it’s now suppressed deeper in their pits. Violent guitar riffs and intense drum sets balance Korvette’s mundane complaints and semi-romantic prose to cloak any real emotion or minor irritation he is feeling.
The older albums, Hope for Men and King of Jeans, embodied more sped up and spewed out anger with horrific guttural yells and while “Bathroom Laughter” sticks to the loud, fast paced jump all over the sticky soda floor, the bulk of the songs are in slower motion. It is still nothing like the terrifyingly rough “People Person” or “Dominate Yourself” from their earlier albums. Even the guitar riffs loiter in space for a second while the drums haunt us with a rhythmic tribal chant. “Cathouse” reflects a slowing down but with short punchy lyrics, a story described in incomplete sentences: loose fur-cat house/can’t take it-internal systems. Korvette tries his hand at aggressive beat poetry in several of the songs, using the technique in “Vain in Costume” and “You’re Different (in person)” as well. “Loubs” is my absolute favorite; it is the calmest on the album and reminds me of my father’s rock and roll. It sounds like a combination of Danzig’s “Mother” and “Illegal Tender” by Louis XIV, which I’m not sure was intentional by any means but it absolutely works. Returning again to their spooky roots in “Cafeteria Food,” the group again channels the great basso Danzig who seems to be a major influence in a lot of the songs on this album. To rewind a little, Pissed Jeans took a few notes from an earlier, and particularly haunting ditty, “Spent,” from Kings of Men. The group uses the slow and long intensity of Korvette’s cries, deliberate and very heavy guitar chords and a steady drum beat to take their time creeping into your brain. Much like the majority of songs from Hope for Men or Shallow, Korvette continues to throw out guttural yells to match the vehement instrumentals. However in Honeys, they took the good from all albums; the lingering rage and the long, eerie coos and melted them into a gooey, spiky and catchy combination.
Honeys is a slightly more effeminate version of all their other albums, written for the honeys of hardcore. Foregoing songs like “Afraid of My Cum,” the group melts…but only a little. The sentiment is subtle, and don’t be mistaken, the clangorous instrumentals and macho bleating are still very much center stage. Honeys is hardcore’s teeny weeny soft spot allowing Korvette to focus on the annoyances of growing up without forsaking his rocker roots. Their songs occasionally hit me the way Dramarama’s “Anything Anything” hit me when I use to secretly smoke cigarettes before Young Life wrapped uncomfortably in my leather jacket outside of school crying over some untouchable boy I had just met; rebellious, but not really. Of course, Pissed Jeans spits in my face more directly and with much more quiet fervor than Dramarama ever could.Honeys is a tad more wistful, a tad more grown up in its complaints, and only as sad and pensive as screaming hardcore can sound. Although “Cafeteria Food” and “Health Plan” return to punk’s gritty fuck-the-man roots banishing any mental health fix or aristocracy, the rest of their songs, specifically “Teenage Adult,” seem to celebrate the growth they have achieved in their movement. A softening occurs around the group’s edges. They very much maintain their grit and gravel sound but it’s topped with a shimmer of hopefulness and age that was lacking before. The screams are still echoing, the guitar is still shredding, and the drums are still pounding but there is now a different longing being realized. It’s hostile in its presentation but it’s got a creamy center.
And you know punk: it’s just never loud enough.
Review by Sarah Gawricki.