Real talk: Pissed Jeans are some funny motherfuckers. Their band name gives a cruel-joke nod to mortal embarrassment, and their album art is frequently absurdist and intentionally misrepresentative of the group’s bare-bones, thrash-heavy noise rock -- 2007’s Hope For Men featured two potential Promise Keepers embracing, while the band’s latest, the astounding, searing King of Jeans, features a gaunt, hairy arm. Open the album’s flip-case, and you’ll find that arm feeding a woman a candy bar in a faux-centerfold fashion.
Indeed, Pissed Jeans traffic in gallows and surrealist humor alike, but on King of Jeans, their lyrical concerns manage to find the funny in middle-class bathos. Album opener “False Jesii Part 2” finds lead howler Matt Korvette shouting heavy against telling jokes, working out, and bringing a six-pack to a party with a single invective: “I don’t bother.” Later, he attends an “R-Rated Movie” to see the celebrities, but issues his disappointment that the film’s protagonists “don’t go all the way.”
Album centerpiece “Spent” concerns itself with the lack of refreshment even a cold glass of water could provide, while “Goodbye (Hair)” is about, well, losing your hair. Even when Korvette gets carnal, as he does on “Lip Ring,” it’s not so much about feeling the titular piercing’s cold steel on your tongue as it is getting “impaled on your pink tipped nails”.
There’s something unabashedly 80s hardcore about King of Jeans, and it’s not just the idea that an R-rated movie could mean something sexy (in the age of the internet, it takes something short of skull-fucking to provoke and shock audiences, but that’s another topic). The mundanity of Korvette’s frustrations is hilarious both in intent and delivery -- why whine about war and poverty when you can moan about getting older and not getting enough sleep? -- in a similar way that Black Flag’s bozo frustrations were amusing (“Police Story” not withstanding). Forget Brecht and junk the political -- the personal is everything.
Oh yeah, and the music: it delivers, and it delivers hard. The catch-up drums and charging four-chord riff of “False Jesii Part 2” make for an album opener so potent you wonder why the band even bothered recording any other songs -- and when the strangled guitar stabs of “Half Idiot” stumble in right afterwards, you’ll know why. Aural references to The Jesus Lizard and McLusky abound (the almost-sorta-hip-shakes of “R-Rated Movie” and “Lip Ring”), but Korvette’s rubbery vocals and the band’s working-man-competent musicianship keep the whole affair original and out of 90s revivalism territory.
Simply put and strongly stated, King of Jeans goes beyond charting Pissed Jeans’ position as the Deans of Denim -- it places them front and center as one of the best and most ferocious guitar bands out there.
1. False Jesii Part 2
2. Half Idiot
3. Dream Smotherer
4. Pleasure Race
5. She Is Science Fiction
6. Request for Masseuse
7. Human Upskirt
8. Lip Ring
10. R-Rated Movie
11. Dominate Yourself
12. Goodbye (Hair)