King of Jeans is surely 2009’s most remarkably arresting rock album.
Mike Diver 2009
One listen to Pissed Jeans’ singer Matt Korvette is all you need before the parameters of commitment are rearranged. This isn’t a vocalist who’s simply invested in the music of his band; he’s a man living, breathing, eating and sweating it, too. He celebrates the grotesque in the mundane, the beauty in the monstrous, through gut-channelled roars and threat-tinged monologues. He sees inspiration where you and I wipe our feet.
As Korvette exorcises his myriad demons – most obviously tackling the inexorable march to middle age, something that’s clearly getting our man’s goat; that, and the whole unrequited love thing that’s tortured souls since forever – the players around him grind out some of the most satisfyingly savage noise heard since, well, the last Pissed Jeans album, Hope For Men, released in 2007. But while the Pennsylvania-based quartet’s previous long-player emphasised disorientating sludge spread over several minutes, delivering symphonies of dissonance, here they focus their sound into tighter forms. Relatively speaking, this is Pissed Jeans gone pop.
Not that your mother’s likely to hear its immediacy, but anyone familiar with similarly bruising rock types from the US – Big Business, Harvey Milk – will be struck by just how neatly structured many of these songs are. Verse into chorus, and back into verse, with minimal meandering into territories where guitars battle with tanks and dinosaurs (at least one presumes that’s what’s responsible for that racket), King of Jeans is a perfect entry point album for newcomers interested in the various reference acts aligned with Pissed Jeans – add The Jesus Lizard and Oxbow to the aforementioned. Acolytes present and correct since debut album Shallow, meanwhile, should find enough heavyweight riffs and stomach-upsetting vocals to satisfy their demands.
When the record slows, as on Request for Masseuse, Korvette sounds so close he could be in the room, behind you, about ready to rest light fingers around your neck and test your nerve; when it’s at the blistering end of the spectrum, all the listener’s body can do is twitch wildly in appreciation: listen to Human Upskirt and Half Idiot and try not to fall off your chair. It’s beyond control, reaction without thought process; pure emotion touching motor neurons, molesting them into action.
Filthy, perverse, quite probably perfect: King of Jeans is surely 2009’s most remarkably arresting rock album.