In a world where girls like Miley Cyrus dominate headlines for all the wrong reasons, I can’t tell you how much better I feel knowing there are acts like PINS out there. I’m not going to attach the role model label to them, because I doubt they’d want it or indeed care. But let’s just say from the outset that it’s such a relief that Miley Cyruses, the Katy Perrys et al can be totally outshone by four young women from Manchester screaming and thumping their way through what is quite an astonishing debut album.
It’s been one of the most hyped debuts of this year, and the post-punky, grungey PINS haven’t disappointed with Girls Like Us, released this week. It’s a compelling, furious listen that draws you in. It’s focussed, cohesive and feels really quite mature, old heads on young shoulders. It’s full of attitude, sass, drama and anger.
Wise-beyond-years lyrics are delivered in everything from almost belligerent monotones to whoops and squeals. There’s a bit of Karen O, a bit of Nico, all laid over thumping, tribal-like drums and heavy bass.
They say they recorded the album at Liverpool’s Parr Street Studios for its vast selection of analogue gear, and according to the press release, was self-produced and nailed within a week. And it does have urgency about it, like they tapped into vein and had to get it all out quickly before it drained away. It starts with an intensity in It’s On that is maintained throughout the album. Punchy songs are punctuated by tense little instrumentals, and even a bit of spoken word in Velvet Morning.
Highlight tracks for me are title track Girls Like Us, I Want It All and Play with Fire. They’re powerful, gripping and exciting. It’s powerful stuff, and it gets better on repeat listen. I recommend giving it at least three listens before passing judgment. I saw them play a super-tight set at the End of the Road festival a few weeks back and they were definitely a highlight, if a slightly strange experience, with their dark and stormy sound in stark contrast to their mid-afternoon slot and the brilliant sunshine and beautiful gardens just outside the Big Top.
At the time of writing I’m preparing to see them again at Birthdays in Dalston, a slightly more appropriate setting, so will report back. They say Girls Like Us isn’t about being like them, but about being yourself, and that being in a band is all they’ve ever wanted to do. I can’t help but think that following this remarkable debut, being like them is something a lot of young women, and men too, will aspire to.
by Patricia Turk