Grunge licks, rusty bass, thrashy drums and a healthy dose of humour – PJ’s fourth is Nirvana with knob gags
Imagine a funny Nirvana. Imagine, instead of the familiar image that floats slickly to mind of poor, doe-eyed, sad Kurt and his easily packageable suffering, a Nirvana who instead were celebrated for their wit, intelligence and goofiness; who understood that the abyss is all very well, but with enough will you can build a bridge across it made of knob gags.
Pennsylvania four-piece Pissed Jeans don’t need to imagine it; they live that dream, to much more chucklesome effect than their damp and guilt-ridden namesake might suggest. Not to say, of course, that Nirvana were never funny (‘School’ is hysterical, and the waffle-based pisstake of The Doors’ ‘The End’ on the ‘Outcesticide II’ bootleg shows they like a giggle as much as the next bunch of plaid-snuffling longhairs). Or that Pissed Jeans don’t also owe a debt to a wide range of other artists such as, um, Mudhoney, Tad and er, The Jesus Lizard. It’s just that if you were looking for a two-word summary of ‘Honeys’, ‘Comedy ‘Bleach’’ wouldn’t be too far off.
They’ve got a grunge-noise, Sub Pop template, then, and they are most definitely going to keep using it on album number four. And it’s a riot – from the mile-a-minute ARGHfest of opener ‘Bathroom Laughter’, with its tale of a house party gone wrong (“You’re standing in the hallway screaming/People trying to get by, but you’re screaming!”) to the scalding ‘Health Plan’, with its sage, screamed life wisdom from vocalist Matt Korvette: “You wanna know my secret? I STAY AWAY FROM DOCTORS!” Health advice covered, on to matters of the heart: ‘Romanticize Me’ finds Korvette counselling a frustrated girlfriend, over a blistering, Shellac-taut stampede of rearing-rhino guitar, to “Take all my faults, and twist them in your head/Until I look like a sweet and thoughtful man”. Everyone’s a winner! Best of all, though, is ‘Cafeteria Food’, the roiling, rusty-bassed murder fantasies of an alienated employee, who dreams of ridding himself of the self-satisfied chumps around him: “And I’ll laugh/Because you’re dead/YOU DIED/And I wish I had my tap shoes”. It’s the perfect soundtrack to those morning journey-to-work daydreams of a sudden, senseless commuter-headbutting frenzy leading to a bloody vengeance at the office.
Of course, if you don’t share Pissed Jeans’ prodigious thirst for churning, malevolent, sludgy riffs and assault-and-battery drums, moments like ‘Male Gaze’ and ‘Something About Mrs Johnson’ may start to drag, but for the most part, ‘Honeys’ is a prime example of how the innovativeness of your chosen style matters not a jot, as long as you’re doing it with aplomb. And most importantly, having a bloody laugh.