To the pissed off punk, life inside a corporate shell can be pretty damn inspiring. Look no further than the cover hovering over this review. Having literally stripped the white-collars off of their sweaty backs, two bare-chested band mates embrace each other. Seems sweet doesn’t it? But sentiment is not where this story ends. Pissed Jeans’ Matt Korvette and Bradley Fry earned their keep as a claims adjuster and account manager, respectively. But having recently cashed in the “straight world” for the brutal, beautiful, business they attend to on their latest album, Pissed Jeans present a rather compelling, if not arresting, corporate complaint.
Having recently been up to my neck in wistful indie rock and singer/songwriter types, Hope For Men (Sub Pop) plays like a swift kick to the face. Ever choke on your own teeth as they trickle down the back of your throat? I think I just did. Upon first listen, Hope For Men is obviously obscene. The sonic sludge the Allentown PA outfit plods can shit, hiss, spit, and (appropriately) piss disgusting dirges in the vicious vein of Black Flag and The Jesus Lizard. Drummer Sean McGuinness’ hemorrhaging 1,2,3,4 strokes provide the pounding pulse to Fry’s anything goes guitars, and Dave Rosenstaus’ bulldozer bass lines. Like a tumultuous speed train racing down the line towards derailment, Hope For Men barely teeters on the brutish tracks the band built for it. It is totally terrifying, and I like it.
But as autocratic as the fierce and frenzied punk and hardcore Pissed Jeans carve up is, it’s what Korvette has to say about the dehumanizing “straight world” that sounds important. Choosing hilariously, sarcastic metaphors to display his distaste, Korvette channels the frustration, anger, and sadness mainstream culture has obviously dished out on him throughout the album’s entirety. On opener, “People Person”, he longs for the everyday pleasantries of a company man…the cars, the women, the doors that always seem to open, etc. Of course, he’s not serious; Korvette sees everything he despises in a “People Person”. “Scrapbooking” plays like a completely wicked document of a morose madman. Growling and barking over sedate piano lines, Korvette wickedly unravels until he is held together by his last string…or in this case, glue sticks, special scissors, construction paper, and distant memories. And are listener’s really expected to believe that, no matter what kind of “Bad Wind” blows through his neighborhood, all it takes is an ice cold, therapeutic bowl of sugar to avoid being swept off his feet? “I’ve Still Got You (Ice Cream)” would suggest so.
In the end, the sick sense of humor Pissed Jeans whip up makes a whole lot of sense. They dodged a lifetime of confinement in a big business jail cell. What might have seemed like an impossibility when they slaved for suits (um, getting signed by Sub Pop, touring, making money playing music), is now this band’s reality. Seeing the outside, they see hope. I bet Pissed Jeans would want to know you do to. - David Pitz