You can run from PINS, but you can’t hide
PINS, an all-female Manchester outfit, has spent some time away from us, and Hot Slick, their first record in five years, is a well-imagined, strong willing return. It’s marked not just by the emphasis placed on bold, socially placed writing, but the cast of collaborators whom the threesome have brought on board. Following the departure of their original rhythm section, the record finds singer/guitarist Faith Vern, guitarist Lois MacDonald and bassist Kyoko Swan compensating alongside producer Rich Woodcraft and Nathan Saoudi of Fat White Family on the keys – an eclectic bunch that’s all but needed considering the bands new percussive-lacking instrumental dynamic.
PINS has always been about the all-becoming, independent female icon, forming in 2011 in direct reaction to the wealth of all-male bands that saturated and still saturate, our global industry. In this sense the expanding group dynamic may be diluting that image, but what’s for the sake of better music will always justify the change.
Hot Slick is as bold and feverish as anything the girls have released before, and in many ways still retains their stumbling, heavy stance. Opener “After Hours” is all synth and choppy vocals, an “I’m just a woman in the world” refrain that highlights with all honesty the crux of their conscience. Ending with some pretty bad-ass, wheezing licks, it’s the bold opener any loud-mouthed group is after. They’ve attributed their influence to the likes of LCD Soundsystem, even New Order, but you don’t hear that as much as you hear a more contemporary nod to Shopping, Dream Wife and even Warpaint. It’s striding confidence which they share, far from the indie-hued melodies of LCD or Order. PINS is not in the slightest bit indie, they’re full-on punk-electronica, new pop-scented, stewey-mouthed, dream psychedelia, art-rockers. Every bit applies.
What’s present in “After Hours” is pretty much present in all the other tracks too, slowly refined with every step onwards. “Daisies” pushes chunky riffs and metallic drumming with a blazing attitude, while “Ghosting” even feels a little soulful, with its M People/Chemical Brothers breakdown. Centerpiece “Hot Slick” showcases melodies made for the dance floor, both ’80s and futuristic – a duplicity that’s wonderfully imaginative –a seismic bass line run around, yet another grungy riff and a piercing vocal delivery that you simply can’t get away from. You can run from PINS, but you can’t hide.
Thing is, while there’s a lot of greatness to enjoy on Hot Slick, there’s a lot of the same too. Where’s the tenderness, where’s the variety? Even a track like “Love You To Death,” with its tight male and female vocal lines (an interesting change-up) or the properly catchy “Ponytail,” a track that on paper should bring the versatility, just doesn’t. Granted they’re two of the best songs on the record, but they’re still the best of only one thing. This is where PINS really struggles, such that as a listener, feels incredibly far from them. It’s an issue that one could say a lot of fierce, punk footed bands face – they’ve got the strength to give a punch, but there’s power in vulnerability too, and when you find music that celebrates that, it’s almost always more gratifying and empowering than the opposite.