Title:Girls Like Us
Record Label: Bella Union
Release Date: 30th September 2013
Mancunian four piece, PINS have been bubbling under for some time. Their EP, LuvU4lyf, garnered a feverous response whilst the quartet’s live show has traversed the UK and Europe deliveringperformance after performance of cool, poised attack. And that’s what the Manchester band set out to do from the off with their debut LP, Girls Like Us, attack.
When commenting on the album’s tense, strung out intro opener, ‘It’s On’, vocalist/guitarist Faith Holgate and bassist Anna Donigan resurrected some home recordings to forge the LP’s commencing gambit, the pair have gone on record stating “It’s strong and we wanted to kick off the album by letting listeners know that we are ready for a fight if they want to take us on”. Girls Like Us is laced with upfront, confrontational vignettes that continue the vein of PINS being a gang, four feisty girls ready to exert their dominance. Overall the band’s battle strategy on Girls Like Us works but occasionally their war offensive isn’t always as devastating and foreboding as you’d want, leaving holes in their battle lines.
The title track is the first hint that PINS need to reshuffle their arsenal as the opening lyrical delivery of Holgate is reeled off in a laboured manner with the words lacking any harmful impact, “Do you see me like I see you/you couldn’t if you wanted to/you lust, lust because you must/it’s all good for girls like us”. When these lyrics crop up again on the track but harmonised, the gang vocal approach gives the wordplay that added level of oomph missing at the top of the song. Musically, the cannon is loaded with driving, dark riffs and crackled feedback attributing a smattering noir sophistication to the mix. ‘Howlin’ suffers from the same lethargic lyrical execution, with Holgate fumbling over “I have nothing else to say to you/you might find me when you wanted to” When the pace drops from the lead singers range, vocally the tracks unravel when they should remain taut and defiant. ‘Lost Lost Lost’ again comes a cropper with another clutch of clunky vocal misfires “I feel alright/I feel so young/there’s nothing else I want to become/I take as much as I can get until there’s nothing left”. Finally the spoken word, ‘Velvet Morning’ sits uncomfortably on ‘Girls Like Us’, the rewound sound and heart beat thumps capture the band as inventive but overall it’s borderline pretentious.
When PINS get it right, they are a well drilled, lean mean, post punk killing machine, although we’ve highlighted where Girls Like Us doesn’t stack up, there are clear moments where, the band come out all guns blazing, destroying everything in their path. ‘To You’ is straight to the jugular with a rolling bassline credited to Donigan that envelopes the pacey, post-punk sucker punk. Holgate appears exposed and confessional with “To you all I give my mind/To you all I give my time/To you all I give my life” and “my heart aches”. ‘Waiting For The End’ is the hybrid state of when PINS merge the dark brooding notions of post-punk with rock ‘n’ roll’s rattle and hum, direct and forceful, this is where PINS storm the enemy gates with only victory on their agenda. As with anything labeled post-punk, Girls Like Us carries a sinister, almost dark sensuality to it, ‘I Want It All’ is akin to a violent storm consuming an entire city, the booming drums of Sophie Galpin act as the thunder to the lightning of the bass and guitars fuzzed up static. Holgate’s primal howls and squeals drop in the sexual conations, with the vocalist submissively declaring “I’m his endlessly/What I do to him/he does to me”.
Girls Like Us was recorded and mixed within a week at Liverpool’s Parr Studios, with the band self producing their debut and it’s this compulsive nature that spurs along the group’s first effort. At times the LP dips into improvised outros and jams that captures the band in a freeform state adding a pleasing air of organic touches to their wares. Equally the inclusion of Holgate’s footsteps at the beginning of ‘Howlin’ and Galpins’ use of tea towels draped across her floor toms adding to a muffled, boxy sound only proves how much PINS want to challenge themselves sonically.
PINS have confidently set out their strategic stall with Girls Like Us and while they don’t always get the formula quite right, their debut LP shouldn’t find it hard invading the hearts and heads of dark hearted music lovers far and wide.