PINS – Girls Like Us – Cutting through the Hype

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When rumours of a new, edgy all girl garage group from Manchester called PINS first started to circulate, our interest was piqued.  Blurred shadowy, stylised images started to emerge online, and buzz-bloggers/tastemakers started to wax lyrical about the band before a note had been played in anger. This of course could have put us completely off the group because the problem with modern day music critique and buzz blogging is there is often a PR led, lemming like mentality, wherein the desire to be seen as “on Zeitgeist” overrides objective discourse.

This of course does not always serve new music well.  Hype without substance can be counter-productive, but things are even worse in the printed media where commercial concerns countermand any reasoned appraisal. This rather sorry state of affairs can only explain the baffling popularity of David Cameron’s new favourite band, the omnipresent Haim. Here we have a band riding high on a wave of weapons grade propaganda, assisted by the glib deference of the hype happy British music press and backed by the might of Jay-Z’s monolithic Roc Nation management group. They are clearly a band who much like the banks, have too much invested in them to countenance commercial failure. Yet as the media complicity falls into line we have to ask the question – are they really that fucking good? Seriously, a group who conjure up visions of a Buena Vista Amish barn dance collective at an 80’s karaoke night sponsored by GAP are the future of music ? Is print that desperate for ad revenue that they are willing to sacrifice all objective critique in favour of ££££… or do they actually, genuinely LIKE this shit?

Fortunately, PINS by happy accident or artful design presented themselves to the world in such a way as to garner a degree of favourable attention, but then stepped back from it.  Not a band to take things for granted they then substantiated the occasionally dizzying claims of tastemakers with a slew of excellent singles and incendiary live performances. And for a relatively new band, they’ve since given every indication that they have exactly what it takes to transcend the fickle world of hype and buzz, and they’ll probably do it without the help of “Hova” himself , Jay -Z.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating and PINS début album ‘Girls Like Us’ released by Bella Union is without doubt a hugely impressive first outing on any number of artistic levels. It also manages to succeed where so many others have failed in that it captures the power, intensity, and excitement of the bands live performances.  The album was recorded live in just one week at Liverpool’s Parr Street studios and as well as being rammed with quality tunes it’s also crackling with the exhilarating atmosphere of raw creative spontaneity that bands often try to airbrush out of their sound.

‘Girls Like Us’ is an intriguing mix, lyrically it focuses on themes such as ( to quote the Manics) “culture, alienation, boredom and despair” as well as lust, regret, madness, loyalty and vulnerability.  But it’s also imbued with a singular sense of purpose, this is very much the girls vision, not the record labels or the suits.. and there’s a feisty “you’re either with us or against us” type mindset that prevails throughout.  Juxtapose this against a musical landscape that is being asphyxiated by a tsunami of polite inoffensive overproduced retrograde horse-shit and Girls Like Us is a breath of fresh air. Musically PINS may get pigeon-holed with other edgy female fronted groups, but this album draws a creative line in the sand and sets them apart. They combine the adrenaline head-rush of monochrome post punk garage noir on the likes of ‘Get With Me’ and ‘Waiting For The End’ with a more subtle, nuanced sound. There’s the imperious seductive Siouxsie-eque vocal on ‘I Want It All,’ the poetic woozy spoken word beauty of ‘Velvet Morning’ through to the visceral gothic tribal paean to obsessive love/lust that is ‘Mad For You.’

Ultimately  ‘Girls Like Us’ proves that PINS are no one trick ponies, they may not have reinvented the wheel but they’ve certainly given it their own special spin. In doing so they have fashioned an album, which although not technically perfect, and which occasionally drops the odd clunky lyric, has enough dark glitter about it to become something of a cult classic…. And perhaps the best part is… this is just the start !

Now get them on the front of the NME FFS. Or do we need to write a cheque? Paging Mr Zed…..

9/10

 http://wearepins.tumblr.com/

Andy Von Pip

ANDY VON PIP - Founder, editor, writer, reviewer, photographer and all-round good guy at the VPME.com. House photographer for The Academy Music Group, Zuma Press, Event Magazine and Rex Features worldwide. You can check out his photography at Andy Von Pip Photography Has been new music tipster on BBC6 Music, Amazing Radio, and DJ on Strangeways Radio (USA.) Can currently be heard on IWFM Radio. His radio work has been described as sounding like Ian McCulloch on ketamine fused with Ringo Starr. New music tipster on Amazing Radio, moderator for BBC 6 Music DJ Tom Robinson's Fresh on the Net, former member of "BBC's Sound Of" panel. Written and photographic work has appeared in The Quietus, Music Week, Record Of The Day, The Guardian, GIITV, The Sabotage Times, Bido Lito, The Skinny, Louder Than War. Media partner and curator for Liverpool Sound City.

Discussion6 Comments

  1. Pins have got it all .The music is fantastic , they look great and yeh u r right, Everything is done on their own terms. So yeh they are all things the industry groomed, stage school crap that Haim represent arent. People are sheep. we all fall for it… but not this time

    • Andy Von Pip

      Twas ever thus, It can make me angry that better bands who don’t have trust funds, or a mighty global PR machine are pushed to the margins in favour of the musical 21st century equivalent of The Ingalls family as re-imagined by Urban Outfitters. But people like safety and familiarity, music that requires no effort. That’s fine and I’d happily concede yes there is of course a place for it if it didn’t have such a knock on effect. For example DDG’s Dee Dee is is a songwriting genius and yet HAIM’s flaccid joyless take on derivative AOR gets the acclaim. And they are worshipped like the second coming, that’s what really gets on my tits. Comments from the likes of Jonathan Dean of Murdochs esteemed musical organ The Sunday Times such as “Middle-aged men moaning about Haim being derivative are the new boring” is typical elitist middle-class broadsheet bollocks, it offers nothing other than a woeful transparent attempt to stifle debate – go back to your pine nuts, your lattes and your Corrs Greatest hits you pompous preening thudercunt. Middle-aged music journalists embracing pop simply because it is pop, recycling and regurgitating PR, afraid to have an opinion other than fall in with the common consensus now that truly is the new boring. People are VERY sensitive about Haim. Fuck knows why maybe deep down they know they’ve been conned, then again maybe they really think this shit is worth defending.

      But this is really about PINS, and they have come such a long way in such a short space of time, and done it pretty much by themselves. Great band, great girls with a bright future if there’s any justice. Although there rarely is.

  2. Jennithan Swift

    nail on head. Or Pin on head Smile Pins are great , Haim on the other hand a total embarrassment and I’m glad I have found a few blogs who dont simply follow the money ! !

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