Pissed Jeans – King of Jeans

pissedjeansIt’s amazing what a little playfulness will do. King of Jeans, the third full-length from Pennsylvania’s Pissed Jeans has been billed as a meeting place for fans of early ’90s grunge bands like the Jesus Lizard, Mudhoney and Shellac. On first listen, such a billing seems to be dead on. Everything from the guitar tones to the vocal performances carry that frantic and, appropriately, pissed-off frenzy displayed by many of the grunge greats. Even the production of the record is reminiscent of that haunting hollowness made famous by Shellac’s Steve Albini. This is clearly an album designed to reign in lost fans of grunge. However, what makes this album work so well is that while it’s definitely made to be listened to in conversation with earlier grunge bands, at no point does the record come across as being a period piece. This is music that sounds new and fresh today, in spite of being so heavily indebted to earlier forms. There is a playful apathy exuding throughout King of Jeans. The record features lyrics displaying well the indifference arising out of the hopelessness of living in a dying factory town—vocalist Mat Korvette proclaims at the beginning of the record, “I know there are things going on tonight, but I don’t bother; only ten minutes across town that’s right, but I don’t bother.” Heard next to other contemporary musicians who seem to take themselves too seriously (Bono, I’m looking at you!), this playful lethargy sounds surprisingly refreshing. Here is a band that is more interested discussing their own apathy and hopelessness in the current condition than going out and trying to change the world. Here is a band that understands well what’s at stake with their band—not very much. With such an acceptance, Pissed Jeans have freed themselves from the constraints of trying to say or do too much with their music. In actuality they don’t care about much at all, except to make surprisingly catchy rock tunes, that will make you laugh and punch things as soon as you start listening. Make no mistake, this is definitely a band trying to recapture the grunge and sludgy ethos of early ’90s rock. Yet by doing so, Pissed Jeans have made one of the freshest and most exciting rock records recorded in recent years. (Sub Pop, www.subpop.com) Jeff Friesen