King of Jeans (Sub Pop)
Underground darlings Pissed Jeans follow up their 2007 Sub Pop debut Hope for Men with another slab of tuneless dirges that mix up the quotidian and the existential. The emotional center of King of Jeans is “Spent,” at seven-and-a-half minutes about three times as long as any of the other 11 songs. The crawling pace and two-chord structure fall in between late-period Black Flag and the Jesus Lizard, but the narrative—growler Matt Korvette goes through a regular day of his life—seems almost Kafka-esque. He’s too tired for much of anything, and even finding $100 sounds like a drag.
The Pennsylvania quartet makes an admirable racket, invigorating the basement-quality recordings of the bands they’re ripping off with squalls of feedback and full bass lines. (It’s worth noting that they’re probably using tens of thousands of dollars worth of gear to replicate a no-fidelity sound originally made on a shoestring budget.) But both the retro quality of the songs and Korvette’s unanalyzed joylessness work against King of Jeans. Korvette never manages to drag the listener down into his abyss; he just makes you want to shake him and tell him to ease up.