Pillbox is a UK-based indie rock band created solely by Los Angeles native Susan Hyatt, a very bizarre individual indeed.
It’s not Susan’s weird past that wigs me out; her parents sold arms to Iran during the Iran-Iraq war, and she made a job of dating mentally ill patients in order to report their behavior to the UCLA psychology department. These things are consequential, and probably do not have a huge impact on her ability to write music. What I do find confusing is the list of musicians she’s gone through in making this album. Upon flipping to the back of the hot pink booklet that accompanies this CD, one will find that every single song is performed by different people. The only recurring member is, of course, Susan.
These idiosyncrasies prove to be interesting, undoubtedly, but what influences me the most about this music is its ruthlessness. The lyrics are scathing, very reminiscent of Courtney Love’s whining in Hole. Hyatt screams things like “Just cuz you fuck me doesn’t mean a thing” and “I want you to hate me, so we can be together.” It’s as though she is conscious of her unacceptable notions about love, sex, intravenous drugs, and so forth, but at the same time she is reaching out, and trying to come to terms with something she doesn’t consider a problem.
This well-presented array of clumsily thought-out intentions is accompanied by some progressive guitar riffs, angry, but at the same time controlled. The actual rhythms do not care about reaching out, as do the lyrics. They concern themselves with being a guiding force, something to validate what Hyatt is saying. Put all this together, and the result is a very tight album.
Although this band is (as mentioned before) reminiscent of Hole, and perhaps a little Elastica, there is a transcendence present here that can be heard immediately upon pressing play: Pillbox is not only much more experienced and mature than similar sounding bands, but is also much more fun to listen to. Go to www.pillbox.co.uk to hear clips and see videos; it’s worth it.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/pillbox-gimme/