by Joshua Robbins
Having followed their career for many years, I figure I must be right around the age of the members of Pissed Jeans. As the years progressed and I’ve matured as a person, so have Pissed Jeans. It may be a strange thing to say, with lyrics about eating junk food in “Waiting on My Horrible Warning,” but there is a feeling that the insularity and self-centeredness of manhood is starting to wear thin. In earlier albums there is a sense that Pissed Jeans are skewering femininity and masculinity, but never with such precision as on Why Love Now. On past albums, or pre-Honeys, Matt Korvette’s lyrics seemed to, at times, be lobbed out without any specific direction. His lyrics were meant for you to decipher anyway you saw fit.
The same still happens here, but to a much different effect. On tracks like “Ignorecam,” “I’m a Man,” and “It’s Your Knees,” there is much more care placed in the wording and overall context. A different band singing these lyrics might be perceived as overtly sexist, but if you look closer at the context here, then you’ll see Korvette skewering himself. It’s interesting that they allowed Lindsey Hunter (author of Ugly Girls) to write and perform a track herself. Toeing the line where your music is overtly masculine, while also trying to be a “feminist,” is a dizzying balance act. Over the course of these twelve tracks I feel that they are able to clumsily but successfully dismount. Korvette and co. never overstep their boundaries. They seem to have a conception of punching up, instead of systematically down. I will admit this is one white male’s perception of where the lyrics and overall content landed, so I can’t completely speak for everyone. I’m interested as to what impact Lydia Lunch had on the project and how her influence shaped or tightened up the album. Why Love Now is tighter musically and lyrically than anything they’ve ever done before.
As previously mentioned, the lyrics hit me on a personal level. The line: “I used to be punk but now I’m singing the blues,” hits home in a scene that values youth. “Not Even Married,” speaks about relationships from the viewpoint of a married man listening to a non-married man discussing a break-up. Pissed Jeans sometimes just hit so hard it’s uncomfortable. There are so many moments where I am shocked that a band could know my life down to such small minutia. Obviously they don’t, but you get it. The idea of working office jobs and balancing bands, a family, and a marriage, cuts through for people of a certain age. It’s an album about not just giving in to what middle class suburban life demands you to be -- it’s also about our complacency within it.
But how does the album sound? I have this concept about every other Pissed Jeans record being a response to the one before it. If the preceding album is slightly more accessible, they seem to scurry back out of some punk guilt. So if Why Love Now is the more accessible album, then I can’t wait for the blown out follow up. Who knows, maybe at 35 years old, I’ll actually appreciate it. I like to put things in analogies or categories, so I tend to think of Pissed Jeans as a noise rock version of AC/DC, in that you truly want them to do the one trick and do it well. To an AC/DC fan, that is the highest compliment, but to a casual listener you may think I’m being condescending. I think there truly is something to be said about a band that comes together and can’t do anything but be that band. The riffs are clearer than they’ve ever been and the low end is insane. Korvette is on top of his game with the lyrics and his vocal tone. I hate that we will have to wait another four years for a new Jeans record, but as mentioned above, I’m happy to see where I’m at in my life when it does hit me.