Pile - A  Hairshirt of Purpose (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


A Hairshirt of Purpose (2017)


First things first, Pile's vocalist Rick McGuire sounds like Coldplay's Chris Martin. Guess years of earbuds has really messed with me, right?

Anyhow, I absolutely forgot about this record and left it pretty late, but hey, better late than never. The Boston quartet dropped this in March and honestly, it's only when my playlist got to their epic 2015 record You're Better Than This last month, I remembered about A Hairshirt of Purpose. And boy, was I glad it did find and tag them for me because this album, while not holding up to Pile's highly-regarded past, still hits hard and reminds you why Pile deserves much more time in the limelight.

Their indie sound is much more drowned out and taken down a deeper emo path. From the dead, reverb-driven "rope's length" to the slow, shoegaze drag on "milkshake" it's impressive how Pile's lack of energy still somehow makes you feel alive. And in truth, it's all about Pile's quiet intensity evoking and stirring emotions withing. Of course you have the band mixing garage punk and post-hardcore on tracks like "Texas" and "fingers" to spark some more life in you, and a bit of anger as well, but to me where they shine most, especially in terms of how fit they are for such demo-sounding recordings, it's the noise arena. 

Think of bands like Metz and Viet Cong. "hairshirt" is a great example of this, highlighting how potent they can be when they finesse their sound. What detracted from this record for me though was that too many tracks had that slow, acoustic lull but at the end of the day, when it ramped up, it was Pile at its very best. Hopefully we get more of this next time around.