Humour in heavy rock music requires just the right amount of tongue-in-cheek irreverence to avoid it tipping over into slapstick and immaturity. Bands such as Revolting Cocks, TAD and Killdozer all found that balance between savage guitars, a pummelling rhythm section and cutting, sarcastic lyrics, and in these modern times the masters of wit and riffs are Pissed Jeans.
Why Love Now finds them further refining their grinding punk rock and sludgy grunge sound – finding that sweet spot between sonic brutality and catchy hooks. ‘The Bar Is Low’ digs in with a dirty and distorted bass groove, like if AC/DC had come from the Pacific Northwest, before blossoming into a Stooges meets QOTSA galloping chorus. It’s that dynamic interplay that makes the album so damn appealing. It rocks hard but it’s not one dimensional gonzo rock.
Lyrically Matt Corvette continues his fascination with the minutiae of modern living. Lives lived through small screens, webcam fetishes and male sexual obsessions. Office equipment gets a seedy, sexual treatment courtesy of a spoken word piece (‘I’m A Man’) by author Lindsay Hunter (Ugly Girls) over an industrial track that sounds as gloriously warped as the aforementioned Revolting Cocks. It’s the marriage of Corvette’s strangled howl and Brad Fry’s guitars that best defines Pissed Jeans’ sound. They are familiar in their 90’s alt-rock phrasing and delivery but they never allow themselves to get pegged down as revivalists due to the way they can stagger from the loose chaos of Jesus Lizard to the proto-metal riffing of Soundgarden. You get a sense that they’re passionately obsessed with their musical heroes yet they’re constantly seeking to mutate and evolve their sounds, musically and lyrically.
As the album comes to a close they leave us with the one-two punch of the slow and sleazy Nirvana-like ‘Activia’ and the jerky metallic slabs of Not Even Married. Two different styles but perfect examples of why Pissed Jeans are seriously fun.