[sic] Magazine

PENS – Hey Friend, What You Doing?

Any record earning quite so much blog-based hatred as this one has to be worth checking out. PENS are three girls with three chords and apparently only one mic between them. Their no-fi pop-punk is over-the-top tinny and all fourteen catchy tracks are done in less than 30 minutes. Sound familiar? It ought to, as over the last eighteen months noise has been big news.

PENS have two fervent camps of lovers and haters, both of whom cite the same reasons in their foul-mouthed arguments. ‘These girls can’t play’ they say. ‘The distortion is just disguising how bad they are’ they also say. The opposition state, ‘How thrilling, their DIY ethics remind me of [insert way cool punk band]’. How lo-fi can you go? Too low it would appear if you’re in the latter group.

Either way, what PENS do provide, along with Nottingham’s Lovvers, is an overdue UK riposte to the stranglehold the US has long held on this sound. Their fast tempos crash and it all duly sounds like its taking place next door. When keyboard melodies join the mix on the opener and highlight ‘Horsies’, all of a sudden it’s like Times New Viking simultaneously got girlfriends and decided to party. The vocal flits in and out of something resembling tune and is also naturally smothered in distortion.

When all is said and done, first feel sorry for Hotpants Romance who tried the same thing last year, but jumped the gun and retrospectively over-produced their garage-punk debut, and secondly, and whether their DIY aesthetics are purposefully masterminded or not, PENS deserve more than the world wide web whipping they’re currently getting. Although beyond samey, they’re infinitely more listenable than most of what recent tour-mate Wavves has produced for a start.