PISS YOUR JEANS SAY YEAH
Punk is the domain of youth. Over the years its initial rebellious edge has been largely filed down to a nub with the palatable smoothness of an infant’s spoon, yet the fact remains that, even co-opted and corrupted by vapidity and consumerism, it remains young people’s music. Some choose to argue pointlessly and endlessly over the “authenticity” of the poppier strain that one might hear on the Vans Warped Tour, willfully blind to the cold reality: definition no longer matters when a sound becomes this diluted by culture. Outright intolerance of the current state of affairs feels appropriate, yet the alternatives for aging punk fans are tragic and few. Some shell out Ticketmaster-inflated fees to see the retroactively hailed nostalgia acts of their choosing lurch out onto massive stages to run through “the hits” much like the classic rock dinosaurs these very same revolutionaries once disdained. Others choose to support the obscure, forgotten 80s band playing miserable bars a few miles down the road from the middle of nowhere. Lastly, one can stay at home, venturing out only to collect even more irrelevant records for hoarding and occasional listening. To some half-smart kid from out there in America desperate for something to rebel against, it’s ideal. For a grown man like me, living the domestic life with all of its inherent pitfalls and pratfalls, punk is sentimental escapism. Nothing more.
The brilliance of Pissed Jeans’ King Of Jeans lies in its full-on confrontation of this nostalgia phenomenon. The vitriolic declarations of apathy of anthemic opener “False Jesii Part 2” respond bitterly to Johnny Rottens snotty, anti-establishment sneers of “Anarchy In The U.K.”. Indeed, Pissed Jeans are The Sex Pistols for thirtysomethings, except that there’s no opportunistic Malcolm McLaren type pulling the strings to transform the guys into fashion symbols. On “Dream Smotherer”, vocalist Matt Korvette seethes with the repeated closing refrain “I will help you make ends meet / If you will let me get some sleep”, some of the nastiest and truest sentiments of someone begrudgingly settling down for a normal life. Salacious titles like “Request For Masseuse” and “Human Upskirt” offer a rare glimpse into the perverse mind of the married man, left to ponder his fetishes and growing obsessions. Buoyed by some good old grunge rock riffing, “Lip Ring” may actually cross the line into full on adultery, with the narrator’s attention directed on someone seemingly younger and arguably more vulnerable than himself. Of course, there’s no clear indication that Korvette actually aspires to these acts or if he’s developing a character to support an overall theme. Either way, his delivery fits so fucking well over the band’s sound, which ranges from slow, bluesy noise rock to mosh-pit ready uptempo ragers.
Though King Of Jeans offers no actionable solutions to overcoming a real-life dilemma–a familiar flaw of anarcho-punk in particular–the record sends a clear message to those of us struggling and muddling through the years between youth and maturity: you are not alone. Admittedly, some of the topics covered here, such as the hair-loss lament of “Goodbye (Hair)”, may seem downright superficial, given punk’s rich political history. Yet, in a broad sense, King Of Jeans is a populist album, a violent and emotional reaction to that sense of betrayal felt upon discovering that the slow creep of conformity has irrevocably killed the quixotic fantasies of increasingly distant salad days.
(4 ½ out of 5 horns)