For a bang playing in genres as self-consciously marginal as Sludge and Noise-Rock, Pissed Jeans have managed to carve out an unusually cosy little niche amongst the post-ironic Pitchfork set and Hardcore kids alike, and their latest album is the perfect encapsulation of why.
Honeys is a monstrosity. An ugly, dirty, lumbering abomination of distorted noise and guttural intensity that powers forwards with a kind of grim purpose, drawing on the legacy of Black Flag’s My War to build a bleak and scuzzy soundscape.
The (probably ironic?) title evokes 1993’s Honey Bucket, the nearest thing The Melvins ever had to a hit, and such comparisons are definitely valid; this is absolutely a record that owes a huge debt to its Nineties forefathers even though it doesn’t entirely stack up.
The album kicks off with a straightforward, no bullshit piece of teeth smashing, practically-one-chord hardcore punk reminiscent of the opening track of Ceremony’s Rohnert Park. The brutal chugging rhythm and barked vocals set the tone for the ensuing onslaught before plunging into the crawling, nightmarish dirge of ‘Chain Worker’, a song that nods to the Sludge Metal glory days of Grief and Nottingham’s own Iron Monkey.
Third track ‘Romanticise Me’ almost has a Danzig-esque vibe to it; it’s the most traditional rock song on the album by far and lead singer Korvette trades throaty hardcore shouts for what you could almost pass for a crooned wail.
Other highlights include ‘Cathouse’ which could almost be a Descendants song, albeit an uncharacteristically angry and noisy one, that absolutely rips and ‘Health Plan’ which at first sounds suspiciously like Nirvana’s ‘Breed’ (seriously, just listen to those drums in the intro, it’s uncanny) but on the whole the remainder of the record is characterised by the slow march towards despair present in ‘Chain Worker’.
The real strength of the band, however, is in their lyricism and this has never been more evident than on Honeys. Far from the standard, and by now incredibly tired tropes of tough guy, fuck-you-you-whore-you-lied-I’m-now-going-to-go-bang-all-your-friends hardcore or the hopeless, hateful fuck-the-world-everyone-is-stupid-except-me-and-I-hope-everything-burns nihilism of Sludge, Korvette here turns his attention to the numbing dissatisfaction of modern life, the dull day to day drudgery that makes working an office job so unbearable.
In ‘Cafeteria Food’ he bemoans the said state of affairs in which he finds himself: wishing death on co-workers, engaging in petty power struggles with his boss and being forced to make inane small talk with co-workers in the lunch room, the latter giving rise to the fantastic line “Go ahead, you can use the microwave/ It’s an excellent kitchen tool!” and it’s instantly relatable. I’ve long since lost count of the number of times I’ve stood making awkward small talk with co-workers who obviously cared as little about me as I did about them, and the bluntness and humour this record exudes provides as kind of reassuring reminder that hey, somebody else has noticed and yes, it is kind of hilarious and absolutely ridiculous.
What really makes his song writing stand out is that Instead of outward expressions of rage at an oppressive “man”, the lyrics on the album have a far more introspective and self-critical edge to them. ‘Male Gaze’ in particular takes this to an extreme, with Korvette personally apologising to women everywhere for his own disrespectful past behaviour and decrying the institutionally misogynist nature of the punk scene in general.
Honeys is an occasionally fantastic, mostly above-average chunk of frustrated, sludgy hardcore; the sound of a man fighting against the imposed impotence of dull adult life on a personal level that is both relatable and damn good fun.
…Bradley is listening to Swearin’ – ‘Swearin”