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Pissed Jeans is one of those bands that you know what they’re sound is going to be simply by reading their name. It’s a sound that’s gritty, angry, and unapologetic, drawing influences from ‘80s and ‘90s noise-rock. It’s full of passion and a whole lot of head-banging glory. Honeys, their most recent release, doesn’t stray from that sound in the slightest. There is a distinct, devil-may-care attitude to it with an almost adolescent quality in the heavy distortion and repetitive power chords. This is music that countless angry teenage boys will listen to as they sprawl listlessly across their beds, staring at the ceiling, overcome with angst.
The sound, paired with the unadulterated energy of the album, might make one think this could be a debut release, but Honeys is the fourth LP from Allentown, Pennsylvania’s Pissed Jeans. Then again, maybe the reason this doesn’t exactly sound like a fourth album is because there hasn’t been much of an evolution. Beginning with the first full length album, Shallow, 2005, released through Parts Unknown before they were signed to Sub Pop, the sound has stayed consistent. There hasn’t been experimentation or straying from their original formula. They aren’t a band focused on redefining themselves with each album or exploring their abilities. They know what they want to achieve and within the first five seconds of Honeys, the listeners will know it, too.
“Bathroom Laughter,” the opening track and first single off the album, kicks off with a heavily distorted, rocking guitar with chords played fast and hard, followed by a surge of power with the drums and bass, and the screaming of the lyrics, “You’re in the kitchen crying, yeah, you’re in the kitchen crying, you can tell from your eyes that you’re crying.” This isn’t a band that wants to be revered for poignant lyricism. This is a band that wants to have fun.
That is obviously the priority for this album, made clear on tracks such as “Health Plan,” where the drums are completely raging, each slam punctuating the lyrics, “You wanna know my secret? I stay away from doctors.” It’s impossible to listen without finding yourself banging your head along.
“Something About Mrs. Johnson” is the only song where the album really misses the mark, coming off as borderline self-indulgent distorted, instrumental track awkwardly falling between the arguably “slower” songs (which, let’s face it, are still hostile), it’s the only break the listener really gets as far as pacing goes.
Aside from “Bathroom Laughter,” “Romanticize Me” and “Cat House” are the catchiest tracks on Honeys. While the album in its entirety sounds like it is something that needs to be experienced at a show, these tracks are the most energetic. These are songs that transport the listener somewhere else by grabbing him by the back of the neck and throwing him headfirst into a dark basement crowded with violent, moshing kids covered in sweat. These are songs that beg to be played live.
That is the best way to describe this album, and the aesthetic of Pissed Jeans as a whole. They decided on their sound with their first release and like what they do with it. They have fun and, as a result, so does the listener. Their confidence in their music and the intelligence in creating are what save Honeys from becoming repetitive. There is no air of pretentiousness: it is raw and cut-and-dry, and while it’s not earth-shattering, it is a solid, brutal album of distortion and heart.