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Pissed Jeans - Half Divorced LP

Pissed Jeans - Half Divorced LP

Sub Pop

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*Loser Edition on Spotify Green Vinyl

Pissed Jeans has never been a band that goes halfway—they’re known for their feral vocals, biting lyrics, buzzsaw guitars, and unhinged live shows, and their sixth album, Half-Divorced is no exception. These songs skewer the tension between youthful optimism and the sobering realities of adulthood, and when viewed through frontman Matt Korvette’s scowl, everything takes on a level of violent absurdity.

Pissed Jeans’ notorious acerbic sense of humor remains sharper than ever as they dismember some of the joys that contemporary adult life has to offer, from helicopter parents to stolen catalytic converters to being $62,000 in debt. On “Seatbelt Alarm Silencer,” Korvette growls, “Call it a death drive but that ain’t fair / Drive implies I’m headed somewhere.”

So where does a band like Pissed Jeans go after nearly twenty years of making music, after becoming fathers, after marriages, and after divorces? Existence has festered to a boiling point. Korvette said, “Half-Divorced has an aggression within it, in terms of saying, I don’t want this reality. There’s a power in being able to say, I realize you want me to pay attention to these things, but I’m telling you that they don’t matter. I’m already looking elsewhere.”

Even within the brutality that Korvette conjures on songs like “Killing All the Wrong People” (“If violence is now their form of play / Let’s aim em towards those who made em that way”), the energy on some of these songs is inadvertently, well, fun. Listening to this album will give even the most jaded nine-to-fiver the sense that unrestrained freedom is still possible. And who else is going to rhyme “colonizer” with “moisturizer” anyway? 

Korvette, Brad Fry (guitar), Randy Huth (bass) and Sean McGuinness (drums) weren’t in any rush to finish Half-Divorced, which was recorded by Don Godwin at Tonal Park in Takoma Park, Maryland. “We’re not the kind of band that bangs out a new record every two years,” Korvette said. “Pissed Jeans is truly like an art project for us, which is what makes it so fun.” This lack of restraint rages within the songs that unexpectedly veer into classic hardcore punk territory—often coming in at under two minutes long and erupting like the “butane tank explosion” Korvette sings about in “Junktime.”  

This distilled energy makes Half-Divorced sound menacing and dangerous. Korvette said, “We realized we’d never really fucked with pop punk, and we thought, this is something that isn’t going to be immediately recognizable as cool. So let’s challenge ourselves to make it feel cool to us.” 

There’s also a Pink Lincolns cover, “Monsters,” on which Korvette sings, “People are more hideous than monsters.” And in the last song, “Moving On,” Korvette sneers, “Cheesing into my cameraphone / Pretending that I’m not alone / Life’s the first thing that we all postpone.” One gets the sense that Pissed Jeans refuses to “postpone” life in quite the same way—life, like art, is something that happens now, not later. 

The word “divorce” falls in line with the moments of humiliation and shame that are held up for all to see on this album. Korvette said, “If you say something enough or if you just allow it to exist publicly, then it loses its evil monster-in-the-closet thing.” There is clarity to be found within both the light and the dark, in both the marriage and the divorce. As the chorus of the last song calls out: “I’m moving on, I’m moving on, I’m moving on.” 

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