Ah the bruised, emasculated male psyche, allegedly responsible for everything from the foaming-mouthed rants of men’s rights crusaders to the election of the oval office’s current orange-haired occupant. It’s not easy being a man nowadays is it lads? Remember those heady pre-feminist, pre-immigration days when you could just come home from your steady job down at the mill having retained enough of your heavily exploited income to feed a nuclear family and still drink your suppressed sorrows away in tearless silence? Now all we have are zero-hour office shifts and a daily dose of checked privilege to look forward to. Am I right or am I right, eh?
Apologies, brothers. Despite the ridiculous sentiments of a few of our number, being white, male and poor isn’t always the childish fun that Workaholics, Trailer Park Boys or Always Sunny in Philadelphia makes it out to be. No-one articulates the impotent anxiety of our underserved yet unsympathetic demographic better than Pissed Jeans. Small town worker drones by day, savage sludge punks by night, Pissed Jeans have routinely been hailed in the music press as the last bastion of blue-collar despair, though this is obvious bullshit as the members of Pissed Jeans all work in an office. Springsteen never sang about “Workin’ across two screens ‘til you get your retinas burned”, Bob Seger never lamented “I’d swipe my card and log online” before earning a buck by working overtime. White-collar despair is the 21st Century sequel to blue-collar despair.
This time round Pissed Jeans find their fury at modern life closer to home than on 'Honeys' or 'King Of Jeans'. The resentment and anger of a man whose relationship is crumbling but who cannot, or possibly will not, articulate his feelings, informs both the album title and large portions of its subject matter ('Love Without Emotion', 'Not Even Married'). On the brutal 'Ignorecam' a similarly pitiful protagonist's sense of self-pity is compressed and fetishised until he winds up squatting in his basement paying women to ignore him via webcam. Everywhere one looks on this record men are succumbing to the low expectations placed on them by themselves and a society in which most ostensible male role models boys see on TV are revealed to be wife-beating, perverted shitbags in real life (a trend singer Matt Korvett bewails on the Hives-esque pounder of a lead single, 'The Bar Is Low').
Pissed Jeans are often guilty of representing women in a similar manner to the writers of American Pie: not so much as objects of sexual desire but rather as a silent audience for their manchildish characters to reveal their most carnal and debased natures to. Nowhere is this clearer than on 'I'm A Man', both the funniest and most uncomfortable track on the album. Written as a pick up attempt on a woman from the office creep, the song gradually peels back the layers of is narrator's depravity until he's promising/threatening to staple her naked body, imagining in his hardcore porn and r/TheRedPill-addled brain that it would get her off. But the truly terrifying feature is how familiar some of the lines sound. How often have you heard a dude boast: "You like foreplay? Because I don’t, I like cutting to the chase"? Too often, that's how.
If you've heard any other Pissed Jeans album then you know what you're in for sonically. The music matches the lyrics blow for blow. The band produce that familiar cesspit of thick masculine riffage and uncompromising grit that, what with them boasting So Pitted and METZ on their roster, Sub Pop seem to now have completely monopolised. But Pissed Jeans also retain a caustic way with words to complement their scuzzed up guitar bludgeoning that marks them out from the crowd. 'Why Love Now' is a brash ballache of an album that will make you hate yourself as much as it makes you hate the world. Rest assured lads, the bar is now slightly higher than it was a week ago.
Words: Josh Gray
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