Some might call Pissed Jeans a punk rock band. Others might consider them an exercise in pure antagonism. Whatever one might care to call them, the Pennsylvania band sure isn’t polite. On their Sub Pop debut Hope For Men, they brought a much-needed dose of misanthropy and destructiveness back to the Seattle label. For much of the album, Pissed Jeans tore through vicious noise rock anthem after face-ripping anthem, occasionally pausing just to creep their audience out with a quietly horrifying suburban body-snatching dirge like “Scrapbooking.” And with new full-length King of Jeans, the group ups the ante on their acidic clusterpunk, offering something intensely rocking and undeniably brutal.
While I hesitate to label music such as Pissed Jeans’ as catchy, there’s an accessibility to King of Jeans that wasn’t nearly as pronounced on its predecessor. They sound streamlined, or at least as streamlined as can be for a group of rowdy jerks wielding broken bottles and steak knives. In leadoff track “False Jesii Part 2,” the group plows mercilessly through a Stooges-like punk rock raveup as frontman Matt Korvette begins what ultimately becomes an odyssey of masochism, misanthropy, hopelessness and apathy, snottily vomiting lines like “I could put on a tight black shirt/ but I don’t bother/ I could hit the gym so it looks real nice/ but I don’t bother.” And as the song comes to a climactic chorus, Korvette unleashes his middle-finger waving bellow of “no to everything!”
Yet, for all of Korvette’s snarling and beastly growls about inadequacy and assholery, there’s a humorousness about it that makes his vitriol infectious. On “Half Idiot,” an abrasively grooving Jesus Lizard-style track, he couples lines like “Please keep me out of the kitchen/ I burn all that I bake/ Why are all my allergies year round for heaven’s sake?” Laughing with him or not, the full-throated assault is enough to want to join in the delicious chaos. Yet even a love song becomes a burly throwdown, as on “She Is Science Fiction,” which alternates between kickass riffs and raygun sounds, while Korvette goes anti-Hallmark by screeching “Teleporting’s lots of fun/ when it’s with the one you love.”
The sinister slither of “Request For Masseuse” is a strip club anthem for the depraved (pardon the redundancy), with Korvette’s narration of a rubdown erupting between bassline gyrations. Of course, the pummeling, out-of-control freight train that is “Human Upskirt” becomes a narration of the even-more-depraved, over high speed, maliciously enjoyable (and yes, catchy) destruction. But Pissed Jeans slow the beating to a crawl on the life force draining churn of “Spent,” featuring the most agonizing of Korvette’s rants with some wincingly close to home grievances (“So I went and got my car back/ there’s a new noise this time“).
For all of the shame and degeneracy on display on King of Jeans, there’s also an insane level of energy and fun throughout. It’s a bit like the aural equivalent to a Despair Inc. poster, with Korvette offering his own self-screw advice like “drink excessive alcohol the night before an important event.” Your self-esteem may be soar after listening to this litany of destruction, or it may plummet, but as long as it’s on and the beer’s flying, it’s 100 percent awesome.
The Jesus Lizard – Goat
Fucked Up – Hidden World
Killdozer – God Hears the Pleas of the Innocent
MP3: “False Jesii Part 2”
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.