Why Love Now by Pissed JeansRelease date: February 24, 2017
Label: Sub Pop
We are living in cruel and unusual times. You may have stuck a damp finger up to the prevailing winds and decided to set off in the other direction, determined to embrace your fellow man, be a nicer, kinder person in the hope that your actions inspire others. You may already consider yourself a pretty good human being, and you know if you can’t love yourself then you can’t love anyone else. Well, forget all that for the time being, cos here come Pissed Jeans to rain on your parade.
Over the course of five albums these part-time punks have soundtracked the horrors of modern life and worst parts of us all, the petty, the venal, the perverse dark, dark core we fear is at our centre. They certainly aren’t here to make you feel better about yourself and the world.
When the screaming subsides ‘Waiting On My Horrible Warning’ revives Killdozer’s slo-mo punk dirge, but with less of the ornery, eccentric humour. A middle-aged hypochondriac frets on a nasty unknown death – “just waiting for a headache that never goes away” , which is a neat way of describing Pissed Jeans.
That stomach-churning, ear-mangling opener is followed by the surprisingly AC/DC-tastic ‘The Bar Is Low’. Surely one of the most commercial riffs the band have ever employed, it propels the song along, with the recurring theme of how poorly behaved most men seem, thus making being seen as ‘ good guy’ too easy. Not the kind of lyric you would normally expect attached to a Young brothers boogie.
For Why Love Now the band have called in no wave legend Lydia Lunch to produce (alongside Arthur Rizk): a wise move. Lydia Lunch was setting loathing and disgust to music when the band were still pissing in their nappies and she has given them the best sound of their career, as well as possibly helping add a few colours to their sonic palette. On ‘Love Without Emotion’ the swinging rhythm is hitched to a post punk guitar tone akin to The Psychedelic Furs. They almost sound sophisticated!
Writer Lindsay Hunter’s guest vocal spot on ‘I’m A Man’ is probably the most memorable thing here, as she takes office stationery innuendo to new weird depths. You would think the novelty of it would wear off after a couple of spins – “You ever been stapled?”, but her delivery is so overpowering you just get kind of pinned to your seat by the sheer force of her faux macho lust. If this office come-on had actually been sung by a man it would probably come with a restraining order.
Not many bands would write a song written from the perspective of a pro-biotic yoghurt and probably no one else could fill it with both a sense of yearning and as much creepy malice as they do on ‘Activia’. It seems odd then to say that some of the subjects dealt with seem either unworthy of their ire or perhaps the tunes just aren’t as moreish as on previous albums. ‘(Won’t tell you) My Sign’ has a very easy pop at new age types which comes off half-hearted, despite the seething delivery, and ‘Cold Whip Cream’ covers familiar filthy ground.
One topic on which the band have always been brilliantly, scathingly ferocious is on the mundanity of office life, and there are another couple of gems on Why Love Now. ‘World Wide Marine Financial Analyst’ may contain their most pithy yet depressing line ever – “I moved my stuff from class to cube, I only had to change my shirt”. Over thunderous drums Korvette’s character (?) admits taking way too much pride in his career, the comforting narrow existence of his whole life. Then there is another rager, ‘Have You Ever Been Furniture?’, which, conversely, highlights the daily humiliation in the lower orders of company employees.
From it’s confrontational title and all the way through it’s punishing noise and scabrous lyrics Why Love Now shows that the scum will always rise to the top. Pissed Jeans won’t go away, so you’d better deal with them.