I sometimes wonder whether the guyliner-wearing, geometrically-fringed kids of today actually realise that, for a decade or so after the term was coined in the late ’70s, punk rock was about something more than sticking overdriven guitars and fast drums behind bubblegum pop songs and covering yourself in meaningless tattoos. Before a generation of over-privileged frat-boys turned it into one giant dick joke, punk was a rallying cry for the downtrodden and the disenchanted, an ugly howl borne of alienation, frustration, boredom and anger, but aside from a few bands operating on the peripheries of the underground that message has nowadays been largely forgotten. One group that do remember are Allentown, Pennsylvania’s Pissed Jeans, a bunch of 9-5 office workers who, of an evening, rip off their white collar shirts – superhero style – to express their disgust at the world around them via the medium of scabrous, sludgy rock & roll, and fourth long-player Honeys is their filthiest, funniest and most furious outburst yet. Most of us will at one time or another have experienced moments at work where we’ve been able to empathise with those that snap and “go postal”, but frontman Matt Korvette must really hate his job to voice thoughts this dark in such a public forum: I can’t imagine his boss would be too thrilled about the singer berating a crying colleague (“Bathroom Laughter“, below), or snarling “I am a chain worker/ Caught in an endless loop/ Like a skipping compact disc“, but hearing him fantasise about his project manager dying on “Cafeteria Food” (“People walking round looking sorry/ Some of them even cried/ I’ll be feeling rosy/ ‘Cos you’re dead/ You died… And I’m feeling like I won the Superbowl“) might just get him fired. You get the feeling, however, that Korvette wouldn’t care, and that – of course – is the point. Elsewhere, everyday mundanities like doctors (“Health Plan”) and pet allergies (“Cathouse“) cause minor meltdowns, whilst “Romanticize Me” suggests the fact that all four band members have recently become fathers hasn’t quite led to all-round domestic bliss (“So you want to tell me that I’m lazy/ Well I’m really just a laid-back man/ So you want to find out where the spark went/ Well I’ll get round to that when I can“). Musically, there is no evidence of such complacency, with hard rock super-producer Alex Newport once again helping to sharpen the edges of their Black Sabbath-meets-Black Flag sound and the introduction of subtle new elements – a bluesy swing on “Male Gaze”, glam rock swagger on “Loubs” and an MC5-like, free jazz-inspired groove on “You’re Different In Person” – making Honeys an easier, if no less brutal, listen than its crushingly awesome predecessor King Of Jeans. Pissed Jeans are a new breed of old school punks, caught in the void somewhere between apathy and anarchy, drones who want to smash the hive but then sit round and get stoned off the spoils; on this basis, trying to stop them would be foolish.
Honeys is out February 12/ February 25 (UK) via Sub Pop