Wednesday, 23 September 2009



A more raw and earnest album will be impossible to find this year. Sounding like a cross between a female hardcore band and The Shaggs, this serves to remind me why I fell in love with crude lo-fi guitar music in the first place. This is the less is more principle in action and thriving.

Pens follow in the great traditional of band scratchy, primal lo-fi bands where the passion and desire far outstrips the mechanicals on display. They’re not angry enough to be Huggy Bear, they’re not crazy enough to be Bette Davis And The Balconettes and they’re not skilful enough to be Sleater-Kinney but certainly there are slight elements from each within their songs and sound which makes for an individual and fresh batch of compositions.

Purposely naïve there mere name of the album along suggests a kind heart and ritual curiosity within their ranks. The album then gets rolling with a track entitled “Horsies” which is a basic gang singalong akin to a playground patty cake. By the time the drums come crashing the charm has oozed to an uncompariable degree. Perhaps the band should have named themselves Crayons instead.

Everything is slightly distorted with this record. By design this is probably a tactic executed to hide technical frailties and gives uniqueness to the sound but regardless it is a system that works, giving the band the kind of stars and chops they require. Often the guitars are a huddled fuzzy mess and the drums sounds like they are being bashed out on a biscuit tin but the key is that the songs are still there, the hooks are genuine and exhilarating. Once upon it felt like all records sounded as exciting as this one.

A song such as “1-2” pleasantly reminds me heartily of early Dischord seven inches and the more exciting moments of Free Kitten. Elsewhere the excellently named “Fukufuckinfuk” truly accomplishes the Huggy Bear vibe while “Freddie” contains the kind of vocal loops that are excitingly dizzying.

Racking up fourteen tracks, most of which barely make the two minute mark, in many ways this is the perfect record for a band such as Pens to be releasing as their first effort (i.e. a young band cutting their teeth). This is the real sound of teenage expression. Buy into now before this kind of art is finally lost.

I’m reviewing this while watching Predator.

Thesaurus moment: energy.

Pens live

No comments: