Dusted Reviews

Pens - Hey Friend, What You Doing?

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Pens

Album: Hey Friend, What You Doing?

Label: De Stijl

Review date: Oct. 15, 2009

Being British and female and (ahem) not especially virtuosic on their respective instruments, Pens have naturally been compared to the Raincoats and the Slits in just about every review of their debut album Hey Friend, What You Doing? Fair enough. There certainly are similarities, but Pens have more of a straight-ahead punk sound than either of those legendary groups.

The band claims the X tune "Delta 88" as their biggest influence, and just about every track on the album dwells in that general vicinity as far as tempo and energy go (i.e. fast and spastic, often with unison or call-and-response vocal parts). And while easy comparisons could be made to current American lo-fi groups like Wavves, Psychedelic Horseshit and Times New Viking, something in the tone of these ladies’ guitars and keyboards is more immediately reminiscent of Lightning Bolt or even Marnie Stern.

Hey Friend, What You Doing? is a sloppy, often badly-recorded mess, and I mean that in the most flattering way possible. There can’t be more than five or six notes on the entire record, the crash cymbals are ear-piercingly loud and distorted, and there are definitely a couple of tracks that I wouldn’t hesitate to skip past. But the songs that do work, among them "Horsies," "High In The Cinema" and "Freddy," suggest an innate talent for pop songwriting that will hopefully be even more fully realized on their next LP.

And even though Hey Friend isn’t a great record from start to finish, it’s hard to fault something that is so clearly the product of three people being creative and having a great time making music together. The band’s energy and enthusiasm definitely comes through, and it sort of makes you wish you were right there in the room playing along with them.

By Rob Hatch-Miller

Read More

View all articles by Rob Hatch-Miller

Find out more about De Stijl

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.