September 25, 2015 PINS – Wild Nights (Album Review)
The Alternative Rock of the contemporary English band PINS is rooted in its homeland’s old-school Post-Punk and Britpop music and derives also from the sensibilities of ’90s American Alternative Rock. This formidable foundation is what sets the band apart from many of its contemporaries, whose lack of clear references or quality of scatteredness is usually tantamount to having a vague or unfocused musical direction. Many bands shy away from getting their music described or classified, feeling that this limits their market and ability to explore. However, this could actually be an inevitable and enviable beauty. Besides, contrary to popular belief, many (if not most) music enthusiasts put a high value on stylistic consistency. What these bands fail to recognize is the positive side of having an affinity with their roots and musical heroes. It boosts their confidence and sense of belonging and gives them a clear sense of direction. This clarity can translate to having a solid and stable musical framework, which attentive fans can usually perceive, earning for the respective band a supportive and loyal fanbase.
Formed in 2011, in Manchester, England, PINS currently consists of Faith Holgate (vocalist/guitarist), Lois McDonald (guitarist), Anna Donigan (bass player), Sophie Galpin (drummer), and Kyoko Swan (keyboards/backing vocals). The now-quintet all-female band released its début album, Girls like Us, in 2013. In this first effort, references that the perceptive listener can cite include The Flying Lizards, Joy Division, Violent Femmes, The Lucksmiths, Elastica, Echobelly, Garbage, Hole, and Veruca Salt. A melange of the music of these individual yet sonically related bands that PINS drew inspirations from—whether consciously or not—to come up with their own sound, permeated into Wild Nights, their second and latest offering.
Released on June 8, 2015, Wild Nights is as equally engaging as its predecessor, but it is more angular and psychedelic in terms of the guitar works and it features a fuller-sounding rhythm section. The vocal approach of Holgate has naturally become more confident and assured, while layers of organ and other keyboard sounds contribute to the texture of the album’s contents.
Wild Nights opens with the black-leather guitar-Rock blast of “Baby Bhangs,” whose echoey vocal and subtle synth drench balance out the song’s Garage sound. “Young Girls” is on the jangly and melodic side, owing to the catchy guitar riff that glazes the song from intro to interludes. The next tracks, “Curse the Dreams” and “Oh Lord” offer a bit of Post-Punk and Psychedelia—the former, reminiscent of The Heart Throbs (“Dreamtime,” 1990) with its medium-rare swirling guitars; and the latter, a hint of the abrasiveness and frenetic energy of Joy Division (“Transmission,” 1979) especially because of the driving bass lines and banging drum beats.
“Dazed by You” returns to the melodic territory, yet the fuzzy characteristic of the guitars remains the dominant trademark. It will fit right in within the sweet-sour taste of early We’ve Got a Fuzzbox and We’re Gonna Use It (“Love Is the Slug,” 1986). Next is the slow ballad “Got It Bad,” which exudes a Jesus & Mary Chain Darklands vibe.
“Too Little Too Late” is the album’s rocking stomper, whose intro cunningly sounds like U2’s “Bullet the Blue Sky.” This may be deemed far-fetch and off-the-wall, but there seems to be a connection after all, no matter how small. PINS recorded Wild Nights at Rancho de La Luna—a recording studio located in Joshua Tree, California. Have in mind that “Bullet the Blue Sky” comes from U2’s well-acclaimed 1987 album, The Joshua Tree. So, regardless if it is intentional or purely coincidental, the sonic connection between the two songs is still worth emphasizing.
PINS turns ominous-sounding in “House of Love,” owing to this midtempo’s driving beat and spiky guitar lines. This dark mood suddenly turns upbeat and sunny as “If Only” plays next, sounding like an Indie Pop C86-style throwaway. Then there is “Molly,” returning immediately to the wild-night sound of the house of love. Finally, the album closes with “Everyone Says,” another slow tune that serves to wrap up Wild Nights in a seeming preparation for a good slumber after a pleasantly hazy sonic experience.
Despite its variety, the music of PINS remains within familiar territories amid the ocean of Alternative Rock where PINS swims. This may be attributed to the band members’ pride in wearing their musical influences like hair slides and in their ability to translate all these experiences and inspirations into something that they could claim as their own trademark sound—fuzzy, jangly, psychedelic, melodic, echoey, urgent, relaxed, a bit of angst, and a lot of cool. CrypticRock gives Wild Nights 4 out of 5 stars.