Pissed Jeans - Honeys (Cover Artwork)

Pissed Jeans

Honeys (2013)

Sub Pop

After the noticeably crisp King of Jeans, Honeys sees Pissed Jeans returning to the muddy growl of their earlier material. They're still as tight as ever, especially the rhythm section, but the low-end heavy, buzzsaw guitar riffs that pervade the first half of Honeys harken back to an even filthier time in Pissed Jeans' chronology. The verse in lead single "Bathroom Laughter," for example, rides on one chord in much the same way "Boring Girls" did (though not literally through the whole song). Fierce, rolling drums back up Matt Korvette's disgusted sneer and the band as a whole sound heavier than they have in a long time. Good choice of single, for sure, as it's the faster, aggressive blitzkrieg tracks that make the most impact on this LP. While many of the ideas tossed around can come off as derivative, Pissed Jeans' strength is working those ideas into a cynical, disaffected growl, whether this is accomplished through muddy guitar tones or guttural vocals, it's felt in most of the tunes on the first half.

"Romanticize Me" already sounds like it takes cues from the opening track: one-note verse repeats, liberal use of quick drum rolls, killer guitar fills. The lyrics are a little dull compared to the brilliance of their last record, unfortunately. Korvette was a little funnier, a little snarkier and a whole lot more astute on that album. I find on Honeys it's best to let the instrumentation do the talking. We already learned about middle-aged vanity in "Goodbye (Hair)" and did so through a clever personal dialogue so do we need to hear about it again in "Vain in Costume?" While I'm skeptical, the hopping and skipping drums behind that classic hardcore riff say more than Korvette ever really does, which is necessary sometimes, but as a vocal and lyrical presence it'd be nice to hear him challenge himself a bit more.

Not all of the slower, chuggy jams work out in comparison to the speedy tracks. "Cafateria Food" has some diamonds in the lyrical rough but doesn't really impress with its token chromatic riff. It almost sounds like there's a post-punk influence to the ambling march of the rhythm section that pops up again on the equally boring "Loubs," which sort of sounds like the Fall, at least guitar-wise. "Male Gaze" is this album's "Request for Masseuse" without the dynamics and like many of these slower tunes it overstays its welcome. The second half in general feels a bit weak after the lightning-paced assault that began the record. Nothing comes close to the disdain of "Bathroom Laughter" or manages to invoke as much doomy terror as "Chain Worker," perhaps the only great slow track here.

Given the fact that Honeys is Pissed Jeans' fourth album in a pretty consistent career, it may have been a little unrealistic to expect them to reinvent themselves, especially after the brilliance of King of Jeans. They still sound like B-side of My War meets the Jesus Lizard (the latter ripped off pretty shamelessly on "You're Different (In Person)") and touch on some more straightforward grungey rock moments, too, like "Health Plan" or "Cathouse." These higher energy moments generate all the power on Honeys, while its predecessor was notable for doing the same thing with its snail-paced epics and punk rock jams alike. Thing is, you can hear the best of both these worlds on most of the band's earlier material going right back to Shallow. "Bathroom Laughter" and "Health Plan" may prove to be fun live additions, but that's all the band is really doing, adding slowly to a repertoire that has already been tried and perfected.