Review by Benjamin Arnold
In a musical scene being dominated by dreamy eyed psych-pop revivalists, it’s a welcome change to hear a band more concerned with puncturing your ear drums, than mollycoddling them. ‘Honeys’ is Pennsylvanian punks PISSED JEANS fourth full length release. With the album art bearing similarities to a BLACK FLAG record, Pissed Jeans have borrowed straight from hardcore punk bands of the 80s and delivered up a solid straightforward punk record – which they do with furiously aggressive conviction.
‘Honeys’ opens with a mess of dissonant guitar and snare rolls as it builds around a buzz saw bass line. Front man Matt Korvette quickly takes command, opening his mouth to begin a rapid fire vocal assault, with little time to breath. Fuzzed out power chords and a whip crack snare are the driving forces to almost every song on this album, leaving Korvette to howl and scream his frustrated anguish to his heart’s content. Vocally, Korvette struggles to be heard above the mix, giving tracks like ‘Bathroom Laughter’ and ‘Chain Worker’ an impending claustrophobic feeling. During the very brief moments of sanity, Korvette is allowed to surface through the mix to scream out in frustration.
The strength to ‘Honeys’ is that it manages to match the level of raw aggression to self-depreciating humour. Pissed Jeans complain about white problems, and realise how trivial they are. After confessing to ‘Crying red angry tears that no one see’s’ on the sludgy track ‘Chain Worker’, Korvette takes the seriousness out of the album when on track ‘Cafeteria Food’ he lazily growls “go ahead you can use the microwave, it’s an excellent kitchen tool”. This willingness to mock the lyrical content of the album adds a certain tinge of frustration to the overall vibe of the album. Lyrically Korvette’s reasons for his frustrated screams are trivial and he seems all too aware of that.
The biggest letdown of ‘Honeys’ is in its inability or lack of willingness to sustain a high level of intensity. The songs ‘Chain Worker’, ‘You’re Different in Person’, ‘Cafeteria Food’ and ‘Male Gaze’ are slow, gruelling and make up a considerable portion of the record. Sitting in the middle of the record between a ferociously intense start and finish, the constant sludgy crashing is suffocating and overstays its welcome. The middle half of ‘Honeys’ removes almost all the intensity that was established on the first track ‘Bathroom Laughter’. This does however make it all the more rewarding when you push through for the final few songs.
‘Honeys’ manages to hit its mark when the songs are short, explosive and fast. Stand out tracks ‘Cathouse’ and ‘Health Plan’ are both simple and fun while maintaining that high intensity frustration and aggression that Pissed Jeans established at the start of the record. Their only downfall is that they have been pushed right to the back end of the album. And then only to self-sabotage themselves, Honeys ends with track ‘Teenage Adult’ which pushes and shoves you around like a schoolyard bully for four minutes. It does start to wear on. Although the album clocks in at just over 35 minutes for twelve tracks, it feels too long to maintain such brutal intensity without losing momentum. By the end, the barking raw aggression that first punched you in the face, turns into a mild headache.