[sic] Magazine

Pile – You’re Better Than This

Take a step back sometime and think to yourself which are the albums of, say, the last five years that are going to be future classics? Some are obvious, but what about cult classics? Improving with age yet somehow timeless they’re notoriously difficult to predict, often resurfacing after years of obscurity to new-found and niche acclaim. Pile are an indie-punk four-piece and they’ve quietly been amassing such a back catalogue since 2009, tipped by many for sleeper success. You’re Better Than This is the Boston band’s third LP and it’s a bit of an anomaly then, ripe for success today.

In many ways Pile sound like a lost Sub Pop band. There’s the name – obviously – and then the loud-quiet-loud and shifting rhythms shtick that makes them hard to pin down either to a sound or a time. Their You’re Better Than This LP is an unstable blend of personalities, thinking nothing, for example, of lashing out with one hand whilst comforting with the other, a capriciousness that matches frontman Rick Maguire’s inner chameleon.

Maguire is part of a new band of anti-frontmen that includes Protomartyr’s Joe Casey, whose slurred spoken word he sometimes recalls here, and he really is on fascinating form during You’re Better Than This, deliciously weird throughout all of “Tin Foil Hat” and carrying a patient track like “Mr. Fish” through his Titus Andronicus-style, drunken-punk antics. And, as if his oddball behaviour weren’t entertaining enough, there’s also the stories he’s telling. The hypnotic, barely-there dirge “Hot Breath” fears being swallowed whole, a jaw-drop blowout coming on like Slint covering Swans – its out-of-tune imperfections making it, of course, perfect. Certain tracks come from peculiar perspectives, too; “Appendicitis” is told from the POV of the redundant organ itself, its simple strumming utterly beguiling as it segues into the all-too-brief hidden track “Rock And Roll Forever With The Customer In Mind” – a blistering, out-of-control punk-rock explosion with the fuzzed-out fervour and excitement of contemporaries The Men.

It almost goes without saying then that Pile are all over the map in terms of aesthetic. You’re Better Than This is all noise-rock punishment that destroys any hope of a regular time signature one second, jagged post-punk posturing and furious, stop-start drums the next. The case-in-point opener, “The World Is Your Motel”, pits Pissed Jeans sludge against unsteady post-HC chops, as well as strangled echoes of classic-era Wire. Then there are double-take countrified acoustic turns, a finger-picked interlude that makes no sense and total sense at the same time, not to mention seriously iconic shades of Neutral Milk Hotel-brand indie-rock. A frenzied stomp propels “Touched By Comfort” forward in this vein only for its Jeff Magnum-inspired melody to be cut dead by an unexpected close, while “Waking Up In The Morning” slides arrestingly in and out of quiet reverie and bludgeoning all-action repeats. These are tracks that have no care for structure and are all the better for it.

You’re Better Than This is so far removed from rock by numbers that it’s laughable. It’s intelligent, interesting, dangerous and glorious: rock by special characters and emojis, if you will. Remember – those breathless switch-downs that Pile revel in are employed by necessity – the simple act of taking five in order to absorb the majesty of the whole. You’d be very wise to do the same because invest in You’re Better Than This and dividends will follow, both sooner and later, for here is a future classic that might just enjoy its moment in the sun early.

Best track: “The World Is Your Motel”

~You’re Better Than This is released March 9th 2015 on Fierce Panda.~