About eight years ago, Philly hardcore/noise outfit Pissed Jeans declared what kind of band it wanted to be: “Mainly we just wanted to bludgeon the listener with dull, monotonous droning rock music that just sucks the energy out of you, the musical equivalent to watching a toilet flush.” The band’s newest album, Honeys, meets that goal with mixed results; like, maybe the toilet got clogged or someone mutilated it with a jackhammer. Honeys follows 2009’s ridiculously good King of Jeans, which set a high bar for how catchy an album about blue-collar, middle-age despair and sexual frustration could get. Honeys sounds like Pissed Jeans took that album and splashed it with a bottle of depressing distortion from Bleach-era Nirvana.
Those complaints aside, Honeys has its thrills. Opening track “Bathroom Laughter” has high-intensity punk in its marrow: The demented bass and jagged guitars rip into your viscera, not with a razor, but with thick, dirty fingers. Songs like “Chain Worker” trudge with slow-as-mud, Melvins-esque drone — an apt but pleasing complement to the band’s perpetual anxiety. “Cafeteria Food” has the dead-eyed cadence and malice of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2” (but none of its gentleness), while “Cathouse” attacks with a ferocious Black Flag energy.
For all its insecurities and discontents, Pissed Jeans is easy to empathize with: In “Health Plan,“ vocalist Matt Korvette wails You wanna know my secret? I stay away from doctors? Yeah! I stay fit! It may seem like playground immaturity carried into adulthood, but it’s an angst based on adult life experience. (Sub Pop)