Pissed Jeans 2024
Photo: Ebru Yildiz / Sub Pop

Pissed Jeans Laugh at the Absurdity of Life on ‘Half Divorced’

On their first album in seven years, Allentown, PA’s Pissed Jeans return with a short, savage, scathing and often hilarious takedown of the modern world.

Half Divorced
Pissed Jeans
Sub Pop
1 March 2024

There’s been a lot of ink spilled over nepo babies in the culture and the resulting out-of-touch “let them eat cake” cluelessness. Who’s supposed to write this generation’s takedowns? Who will satirize and skewer the ludicrous inequality or the social ills straight out of Revelations? Who will write the soundtrack for this coal cart hurtling toward the abyss? 

Allentown, Pennsylvania’s Pissed Jeans are the rarest of rare – a genuinely working-class punk rock/metal band. They all have day jobs in the corporate salt mines, so they have no reason to pander or scrape. They probably get enough of biting their tongue while on the clock. Pissed Jeans is their chance to let it all hang out.

There’s no holding back on Half Divorced. With 12 songs clocking in at barely more than half an hour, it’s a rocket sled ride through the heartbreaking ridiculousness of modern living. Singer Matt Korvette has no qualms whatsoever about saying things that shouldn’t be said, as is evident from the album’s first moments. Album opener “Killing All the Wrong People” spits out the “every life is sacred” screed like Jehovah expelling a lukewarm Christian. The problem isn’t the killing, according to Korvette, while Sean McGuinness’ drums pound like a migraine and Brad Fry’s guitars scratch and itch, scream and squirm – it’s that the killing is aimless. It’s a sentiment that maybe some of us think to ourselves in the dead of night or while vaguely lit. It’s just not spoken out loud. Not so with Korvette – he may be the most transparent man in show business.

Half Divorced continues to mow down sacred cows like a shooting gallery. “Anti-Sapio” is a brutal takedown of the holier-than-thou sanctimoniousness of the modern dating market, taking the piss out of so-called “sapio-sexuals”, people who are supposedly attracted to intelligence rather than physicality. The sentiment “I’m only interested in what my eyes can see” seems almost heretical in an era obsessed with saying the right thing the right way. Anxious, over-attached parents get similarly short shrift on “Helicopter Parent”, calling out their vacuity, neuroticism, and the damage it will wreak on the next generation. It’s beyond refreshing to hear gnarly, noisy speed punk that sounds like it could’ve been written in the school drop-off lane.

Pissed Jeans even take aim at the comforting delusions we often tell ourselves to exist in such a doomed, hopeless state. In “Cling to a Poisoned Dream”, they call out the sunk cost fallacy that maybe, just maybe, we’ll be the ones to win the lotto, to escape the climate wars and refugees, secure our place among the chosen few on the New Ark while this world chokes and burns. “Everywhere Is Bad” deflates the idea that the solution to your problems lies in yet another relocation. Wherever you go, there are you – and where you are is horrible.

It sounds like grim going, and in many ways, it is. It’s an endless litany of the eternal horribleness of modern living, set to a relentless onslaught of distorted guitars, corkscrewing bass, pummeling drums, and Korvette’s signature bark. It’d be almost unbearable if it weren’t so damned funny. Pissed Jeans embody the reality that if you didn’t laugh, you’d break down crying. Or screaming. Sometimes, all three at once.

As they hurtle towards their second decade as a band, Pissed Jeans stand to be this generation’s the Fall or Shellac. They’re working-class roughniks who aren’t afraid to talk back, to tell it like it is, and who aren’t afraid to scream or cry or, most of all, laugh at the nihilistic absurdity of living in 2024.

RATING 7 / 10