Occasionally, every once in a while, we all happen upon an album which seriously stretches our ability to produce a coherent narrative. For me, this usually happens when in close proximity to jazz-funk fusion or Tanita Tikaram and yet here I am, slightly dumbstruck by the fifth studio album by Pennsylvanian hardcore ranters, Pissed Jeans. As a record label, Sub Pop have always had a magnetic appeal for me, their output acting as a clarion call to my antagonistic and uncompliant personality, but this….THIS??? I have no idea whether Why Love Now is the greatest rock album of the 21st century or some angry men paying homage to Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer, you remember the scene right…the one where he totally loses it? Either way, Why Love Now grabs hold of your jugular within the initial seven seconds and only relinquishes its grasp when convinced the message has been rammed home with the subtlety of a jackhammer…and I mean that as a genuine compliment.
‘Waiting On My Horrible Warning’ isn’t really an opening track, the gut- churning snarl of Matt Korvette is the sound of a man in anguish, tortured from the very depths of Hades with the Devil tickling his feet and Aqua on an endless repeat. This isn’t melodic, this is the sound of a man about to launch head first into as much anger and self-loathing as you can fit into half an hour. It’s a bold opener and nigh on unlistenable but it serves its purpose. By way of comparison, recent single ‘The Bar Is Low’ feels positively chipper and as light as lemon sorbet, it’s also just as acidic. These boys aren’t happy with much and being a man really isn’t all its cracked up to be. By the time you chance upon the album mid-point ‘I’m A Man’ there’s a 50/50 chance you will be cowering behind the sofa begging your Mum for reassurance. Voiced by author Lindsay Hunter, the track stands out as a primeval paradox to the maelstrom of musical chaos taking place elsewhere. It may be tongue in cheek or it may be a visceral swipe at misogyny in mid-town America. Either way, it connects perfectly.
Then it’s back onto the treadmill of pain, ‘(Won’t Tell You) My Sign’ descends into cathartic filth with Korvette screaming like a 5 year old who has just knocked over his sherbet fountain before the brilliantly named ‘Worldwide Marine Asset Financial Analyst’ demonstrates that Future Of The Left haven’t totally monopolised the market in socio-political angst hidden behind amusing song titles. By track twelve, ‘Not Even Married’ I’m a mere husk of my former self; the unrelenting barrage of anger, abuse and downright nauseating mucus which is flung from just about every track has taken its toll. I’m broken.
If there is anything worth clinging onto as 2017 starts to slip into uncomfortable and dangerous territory, it’s the knowledge that the darkest of times socially and politically so often lead to the greatest surge in creativity. I don’t live in the US, I have no connection with those who feel abandoned and disenfranchised by their political system but Pissed Jeans know exactly how this feels, they always have. Why Love Now is a 37 minute horror show which reveals just how terminal their nation has become and their frustration isn’t just palpable, it’s intoxicating and addictive. Buy it, listen to it, then go and change your world. “The bar is low/and it’s getting lower” rages Korvette; where Pissed Jeans are concerned he is so, so wrong.
Why Love Now is released on February 24th On Sub Pop