With a name like Pissed Jeans, the uninitiated might assume they’d be more akin to GG Allin than say, METZ. But the boys from Allentown, Pennsylvania specialize in wading through a different type of shit: modern life. They’re the working hardcore punks, chronicling the plight of miserable office stiffs, dealing with the mediocrity of those around them, and finding that last sliver of solace in eating ice cream with as much humor It’s the kind of music you play on your commute to work in order to prevent you from swinging at the first guy who asks if you watched “Vanderpump Rules” last night. Behold, the hierarchy of their output.
5. Shallow (2005)
Well we had to start somewhere, and it had to be their debut album. “Shallow” comes out of the gate swinging (as an eight-track album should, there’s limited time damn it) but overall doesn’t say a whole lot that’s super consequential, unless you’re the kind of person who gets irrationally angry over having a head cold. Though what it lacks in the lyrics department is made up for in feedback-laden raw energy and hilarious self-deprecation. The one-two combo of the script flipping “Closet Marine” and “I Broke My Own Heart” are the glue that holds the album together.
Play It Again: “Closet Marine”
Skip It: “Ugly Twin (I’ve Got)”
4. Why Love Now (2017)
Five albums and more than a decade into their existence, you can hear in Matt Korvette’s voice that he’s angrier than ever, his piercing scream now more of a guttural growl. “Why Love Now” covers the existential crisis of realizing our bodies are falling apart (“Waiting on My Horrible Warning”) along with the world around us, and that mediocrity is the new normal (“The Bar is Low”). The band sounds like they’re soundtracking the apocalypse while Korvette’s voice gets even more gravely as the album trudges on. Still, he makes a pretty good case for pegging on “Cold Whip Cream” so at least we can have some fun before the end times.
Play It Again: “The Bar is Low”
Skip It: “Activia”
3. Hope for Men (2007)
Remember when you graduated college ready to conquer the world only to realize that everyone sucks and the best days are behind you? Pepperidge Farms – I mean Pissed Jeans – does. It’s the darkest effort in their catalog, and a perfect soundtrack for mid-20s angst set to post-punk and old-school hardcore. Though as Korvette deftly illustrates throughout the album, the only thing worse than life not turning out how you expected is being a conformist tool. And yet on “I’ve Still Got You (Ice Cream)” he makes a compelling case that there’s still beauty in this world.
Play It Again: “Fantasy World”
Skip It: “The Jogger”
2. King of Jeans (2009)
It’s a dangerous game when a band begins an album with the best song in its repertoire, but from the infinitely ass kicking “False Jesii, Pt. 2” the only way to go is up. You’d swear upon first listen that this was the second coming of Jesus Lizard. Korvette comes as close as he can to writing love songs with “She is Science Fiction” and “Lip Ring”, while also pointing out that as opposed to what Green Day has said, masturbation hasn’t lost its fun on “Pleasure Race”. Hell, it’s more fun than ever! “King of Jeans” is a perfect encapsulation of being in your late 20s/early 30s: the mind rages, but the body wants to stay in bed.
Play It Again: (Tie) “False Jesii Pt. 2” and “Dream Smotherer”
Skip It: “Request for Masseuse”
1. Honeys (2013)
“Honeys” plays out like a day in the life of an office worker at 100 miles per hour. With opener “Bathroom Laughter” launching you out of bed like a screeching alarm clock when you’re already late for work, the next 40 minutes of “life is hell” affirmations are the boys at their best both sonically and lyrically. Dispensing hot tips on subjects like how to stay healthy (don’t go to the doctor) and keeping your partner happy (do the bare minimum, it’s fine), not a moment is wasted and you’re left with the satisfaction that someone out there would also do cartwheels if your boss died.
Play It Again: “Romanticize Me”
Skip It: “Something About Mrs. Johnson”