PINS – Louisiana, Bristol (Oct 7, 2013)

“It wasn’t busy at all when I watched them here last time.” I overhear this predication from a woman in front of me as she shares her thoughts with a male companion. I recognise her as the lady who squeezed through the upstairs door of the Louie and into the sweaty sardine tin of shoulder to shoulder music appreciators just a few moments ago. It’s a mixed crowd, mostly young but of various ages, certainly a high number of girls, several of whom adorn 80s revival garb of short haircuts, undercuts and bowler style hats.



The increase of attendance is no surprise. A certain buzz has begun to emerge regarding Manchester all-girl 4 piece PINS over the last 12 months. Awash with internet interest that includes reverential comparisons to C86 bands such as Shop Assistants and The Jesus & Mary Chain or the more recent revivalist incarnations like Crystal Stilts, momentum is building for a band who released their debut album ‘Girls Like Us’ on label Bella Union just a week ago.

A collective banshee wail and drummer Sophie Galpin’s tribal march build-up to opener  ‘Lost Lost Lost’ sound like a clan rallying cry and a sure statement of intent. ‘Say To Me’ from last year’s ‘Luvu4lyf’ EP is next with its heavy but satisfyingly simple hammer-on riff and hypnotic ascending and descending harmonies; these elements provide both a raucous noise and melodic awareness that conjure imaginings of a post-punk Phil Spector girl group.

Lead singer Faith Holgate, clad in Brooklyn garage rocker attire of laddered tights, black leather mini-skirt and black shirt isn’t one for chatter in between songs and aside from the odd ‘Thank you,’ and ‘This one’s from the new album’ type utterances, she opts to let her vocals do the talking. The clipped communication, however, is by no means an indication of a band not having fun. Holgate is all yelps going into instrumental breaks and Galpin, even when not required for backing vocals, sings spiritedly along away from her microphone.  Both guitarist Lois McDonald and Donigan bop enthusiastically as they launch into ‘Get With Me’ and, at the song’s final flourish they both buoyantly clatter into Holgate with smiles on their faces. With its Dum Dum Girls catchiness and McDonald’s Tarantino surf guitar at the chorus, it is an album highlight that is comfortably delivered with live aplomb.

Sipping iced drinks using straws throughout the set, it is a refreshingly feminine antidote to the usual lager swilling masculinity of the majority of bands. This in microcosm perhaps explains the appeal of PINS and the subsequent buzz that has emerged. The full female aesthetic, still a relative novelty within the male-dominated world of guitar groups, provides a shift of focus and its attractiveness cannot be underestimated in regard to ladies who aspire to get their own bands together, men with a fondness for girls with guitars and everyone else generally wearied or too familiarised with the usual male predominance.

Towards the end of the set, perennial fixture of the Bristol music scene, Big Jeff suddenly arrives and, instantly recognised by Holgate, she dedicates following track ‘Stay True’ to him. Taking his customary place at the front of the stage he is his usual pogoing mass of unwieldy bulk and oscillating mop of blond curls. Reticence nullified by the big man’s predilection to give himself over to the idea of abandon, several others join him at the front and the PINS party has truly begun.

The Siouxsie & The Banshees inspired ‘Luvu4lyf’ sees another steady drum and bass build-up and more reverbed noodlings from McDonald as Holgate dispenses with her telecaster and stands coquettishly close to the audience at the edge of the stage. Finishing with the album’s title track; more playful yelps from Holgate, further 3 way harmonies and a whirling guitar solo bring a rousing set to an end.

For all their power and live sass, there is nothing intricate about PINS. Clattering at their instruments in a series of finesse free, sonic assaults, they are very much musicians learning as they go and performing music that their style of playing allows. The recording of the album, with its analogue equipment and tracking to tape, was no doubt an attempt to recapture the rawness of the girl’s live sound but it is with a performance such as this; powerful, loud and unpolished, that such music is at its best. With their lack of adherence to an encore it seemed as if these girls were in something of a rush to get where they want to go. Girls like them? They might just make it there.

by Scott Hammond


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