Pissed Jeans - Hope for Men (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Pissed Jeans

Hope for Men (2007)

Sub Pop

"Pissed Jeans sounds like a cross-pollination of Black Flag and Flipper." That was my initial thought after slipping in Hope for Men on my ride home from work the other night and bearing the screeching noise-guitars, heavy, chunky rhythms, and half-shouted vocals all the way back to my apartment. Back home, I surfed around finding out more about the band, eventually landing at Pitchfork Media, where to my dismay, the author had already employed the same Black Flag meets Flipper comparison that I was planning on pitching in my review. Life isn't fair.

Pissed Jeans sounds like an angry band. The music is volatile, abrasive, and harsh, but it's hard to find much anger at all in Pissed Jeans' non-sequitur delivery of average college radio lyricism. The rough, pounding drone of "People Person" gives way to the aforesaid confident yet daft storytelling in mid-20s vernacular: "He's got a big white smile / And the cotton shirt to match / He'll talk about the weather on his digital watch / He forwards funny e-mails / Pics of a dog wearing a dress / Light bounces off his hair gel / He's handsome I confess." Even when the words do take on a slant of negativity, the fussy whine gives off a vibe more amusing than angry, as in the fuzzy holler of "A Bad Wind": "I feel a crummy draft / That's making my throat sore / Keeping me up all night listening to myself snore / Makes getting out of bed a giant chore / Well I could go on, but I don't want to be a bore."

Musically, Pissed Jeans is refreshing and attractive, an indispensable revival of styles that challenged the way people thought should be done with music 30 years ago. Lyrically, the band has nothing to prove, and seems to enjoy it that way. There is little palpable substance, though that's not to say a level of wisdom can't be extracted from the words being shouted, as the standout track "Caught Licking Leather" contains the Craig Finn match "Everyone gets busted sometimes / And it's never any fun, to be the only one."

The album could have also done without the "artistic inclusion" of "The Jogger," three minutes of drone and screech with no words, even though nonsensical lyrics miraculously appear in the liner notes. The gloomy crawl of "Scrapbooking" is comprised of minimalist piano and inebriated vocals about, you guessed it: the fine art of scrapbooking.

Pissed Jeans have managed to pound out a sizeable niche with the ability to attract congregations from both the punk and hardcore crowds, and the musical elite of indie rock and college radio. Hope for Men is an impressive blend of approaches, and for those who can stomach the noise, a benchmark for an important revival that's just beginning to bloom.