Pink Swords - Shut Up & Take It (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Pink Swords

Shut Up & Take It (2005)


A great deal of the punk rock population would probably agree that punks and punk music have certain moral codes and ethics that they stand by. To some it might even seem that that is how it always was. Yet, in reality things such as veganism, DIY ethics, straight-edge, environmental activism and strongly defined leftist political stances were after-the-fact developments largely (but not exclusively) brought on by the advent of American hardcore. In reality, punk's forebearers, bands such as the Stooges and the Ramones were a musical revolution designed to strip rock music down to its basic principles. Carrying the torch for no frills rock'n'roll comes Pink Swords (what a great band name) with their sophomore full-length, Shut Up & Take It for Gearhead Records.

The album artwork could be taken as somewhat sexist having half-naked women with toilets in place of heads and taking plungers to the face. It is effectively striking though and appropriate for the kind of dirty, sexy, in-your-face antics contained within the recorded material. Seems kind of strange to give allowances on artistic merit for something associated with music based around instant gratification, but it works.

The real focal point of the record is around vocalist Stink Ray's sloppy and maniacal delivery, but all the members pull their weight. When a lot of records tend to leave the bass in the background it is really refreshing to be able to distinctly hear the basslines without having them drown out everything else. The best example of this is the thundering bass on the opener "Tough Shit." The album could however use a heavier/dirtier recording on the drums. The drumming is by no means bad, but on a track like "Give It to Me" the drums play a pivotal role and it comes off as sort of weak due to the recording. That song still remains one of the strongest on the album due to Stink Ray, as well as the impressive guitar and piano battle that occurs. While I've noticed in recent years an increased use of organ in bands, it is still regrettably rare to see bands properly using the piano as a true rock'n'roll instrument. A song like "Things You Say" channels the ghost of the Dead Boys in its slow but steady rhythm and simple guitar parts but adds short squealing guitar flourishes. Those are the type of little things that make already good songs even better.

I must admit, a good amount of the time I have no idea what the vocals are actually saying. I wager to say that it isn't that important compared to the overall feeling, which is saying a lot considering I have a bias toward well-written lyrics. If the overall feeling wasn't such a raunchy kick in the teeth it would just mean this was shitty, but you can hear Stink Ray clear his throat and spit on "No Rock N Roll."

These Texans exhibit the sort of passion and grit that the new Riverboat Gamblers record so sorely lacked. I'll take Swords for 100, Alex.