Graded on a Curve:
Pissed Jeans,
Why Love Now

I can’t think of a more soothing way to begin your day than by listening to the saccharine sounds of Pissed Jeans. That’s a lie. Pissed Jeans will wake you up, but much in the way a screeching cat landing on your face will. Because Pissed Jeans are the best noise rock band in existence. U.S. Maple, Killdozer, Cows—my pantheon of unbearable noise rock heroes is a small one. But you can add Pissed Jeans to the list.

Pissed Jeans hail from Allentown, PA, which tells you something right there. It tells you they were fucked from the start. And they’re angry about it, that is when they’re not cracking themselves (and you, dear reader) up with their affection for the banal indignities of being alive. “I’m Sick” has been a rock trope since Alice Cooper, but it took Pissed Jeans to take the phrase literally. Vocalist Matt Korvette spent the entire song whining about how he had a head cold, and how miserable he felt. The song is brilliant.

On most of their best songs the band sound like sludge moving slowly downhill, but as the whiplash “Cold Whip Cream,” the rocket sled that is “Worldwide Marine Asset Financial Analyst,” and “Have You Ever Been Furniture” from 2017’s Why Love Now demonstrate, Pissed Jeans can kick it out as well as your average punk band. Great, you say. Indeed, I say. But what isn’t so great is “Love Without Emotion,” which sounds a bit like Dinosaur Jr. minus the bludgeoning guitar, and wouldn’t so out of place on WPEN.

And I find that worrisome. Keep Pissed Jeans weird, is what I say. And “Love Without Emotion” is not weird. It’s an excellent tune, but it does not hurt. Good noise rock should hurt. Me, I prefer Pissed Jeans’ slower and crunchier numbers, if only because Korvette tends to approach them like a lunatic, bellowing about the everyday indignities of breathing in a voice that recalls the giant-lunged Michael Gerald of Killdozer cut with the weird vocal hiccups and twitches of U.S. Maple’s Al Johnson. In short you get the best of both worlds, but at the same low price! He can sing like your normal Joe, but I prefer him sounding deranged. He does it so well.

Why Love Now is a top-notch rock LP. But it’s not a great noise record. Pissed Jeans are sounding, er… a bit less psychotic these days. Like they’ve mellowed, just a tad. And that doesn’t bode well; although I know that he not busy being born is busy dying and all that crap. The simple fact is that Korvette doesn’t reach the fucked-up heights of “I’m Sick” on Why Love Now, although he comes close on LP opener “Waiting on My Horrible Warning” and on the grinding “Ignorecam,” which includes a hilarious spelling lesson towards the end. He also does an admirable job in the latter moments on the incredibly catchy “The Bar Is Low.”

Korvette also channels his inner Killdozer on the bludgeoning “It’s Your Knees” (shallow boy doesn’t want to have sex with girl because her knees aren’t up to his exacting standards), the grinding and rumbling “(Won’t Tell You) My Sign,” and LP closer “Not Even Married.” But on the LP’s other songs Korvette doesn’t sound at all like a 300-pound crazy suffering from roid rage who has just smoked a lot of angel dust. And that’s the man’s charm.

Another bad sign: the LP’s highlight, the hilarious and scathing “I’m a Man,” isn’t a song and doesn’t feature Korvette at all. On it Ugly Girls author Lindsay Hunter’s delivers a scabrous and self-penned monologue in which she plays the part of an innuendo-spewing male pig coming on to an innocent female office worker. This is some of the funniest, weirdest, and most male-lacerating shit you’ll ever hear: “Because I’m a man and I can tell by my reflection in this duck painting that I look good,” she says. “Get me a cup of coffee and dip your undies in it because I like a dip of cream,” she says. “Do you take dictation, get it?” she says. “I just want to take that packet of pens and spill it on your naked back, African rain is what I call that.” And on it goes. You’ll be mesmerized, I guarantee it.

I’ll say it again. Why Love Now doesn’t quite live up to Pissed Jeans high standards of painful listening. But it takes a band with truly messed-up individuals sharing a collective financial death wish to go on as Pissed Jeans have been, and I assume they’d all love to be able to quit their day jobs some day. Can’t say I blame them. A touch of commercial success would be nice. And I think they’ve found it in “Love Without Emotion.” I wish them the best.

GRADED ON A CURVE:
A-

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