The onslaught of noise-rock that ensues on “Waiting on My Horrible Warning,” the opening track on Why Love Now, the album by the Philadelphia hard-core punk band Pissed Jeans, arrives with punishing power.
The intentionally sludgy sound begs to be described in dudes-with-guitars terms: assaultive, muscular, masculine. But any conclusion that the members of Pissed Jeans -- who play sold-out hometown shows at the Boot & Saddle on Friday and PhilaMOCA on Saturday -- are a quartet of macho knuckleheads could not be further off base.
In fact, Why Love Now operates as an often-amusing exposé of masculine bad behavior run amok. “It’s Your Knees” mocks misogynist men who judge women while considering themselves prize catches. “Ignorecam” focuses on horny-guy fetish-cam weirdness.
“What I’ve always gotten from punk rock is to question the status quo,” says Matt Korvette, 35, Pissed Jeans' singer, talking from his South Philadelphia home. “Just being kind of self-aware. Don’t take accepted answers as gospel.
“And I take that from being a teenager -- with, ‘Yeah, I do want to wear a spiked bracelet to school’ -- to being an adult male. I think I’ve maybe got some more immature things squared away. I’m not an insecure 24-year-old anymore.”
Korvette and his bandmates -- guitarist Bradley Fry, bassist Randy Huth, and drummer Sean McGuinness -- formed in the Lehigh Valley, but they’ve been based in Philadelphia for a decade. (Fry still lives in Bethlehem.) Korvette is now proud to call Pissed Jeans a Philly band.
Why Love Now is the band’s fourth album since signing with Sub Pop Records, the Seattle label that gave birth to grunge. The band brought in two producers for the album, which was recorded in two sweltering weeks in July at Fishtown's Spice House Sound.
The conventional choice was Arthur Rizk, a well-respected thrash-metal knob-twiddler known for his technical facility. The left-field choice was Lydia Lunch, the punk No Wave spoken-word poet who rose to prominence in the 1980s. “We’re on Sub Pop, so I thought we should be able to pull some strings and meet cool people,” says Korvette. “I wanted to bring somebody like that in and change the dynamic, so it wasn’t just a technical boys' club.”
Korvette didn’t know Lunch, nor does she have a track record as a producer. “She’s just a strong personality and very intense. She’s been in classic bands and seen some crazy stuff. It was a little risky, but we haven’t taken many risks like that before. It’s our fifth album.”
The results were beneficial. “Arthur held down the technical side, and Lydia was really good for us, too. She’s known for being bleak and transgressive and scary, and she was those things, but also a great motivator. She could really tell when we needed a little praise."
Pissed Jeans are a touring band, but all members have day jobs. Korvette works from home as an insurance adjuster, “which is about a million times better,” he says, than the 10 years spent in the office that impacted songs like “Worldwide Marine Asset Financial Analyst."
Workplace politics also shape “I’m A Man,” an arresting rant by (female) author Lindsay Hunter that comes at the album’s midpoint. Maura Johnston, the former Philadelphia City Paper critic who wrote the band’s bio, describes it as a “monologue of W.B. Mason-inspired erotica.”
The video for “The Bar Is Low,” shot at a Fitness Works in South Philadelphia, shows clueless band members with little idea how to operate exercise equipment.
“There’s always been some humor to Pissed Jeans,” Korvette says. (For one promo photo for Why Love Now, the band posed in front of the Kurt Vile mural in Fishtown.) “Hopefully, it’s not too didactic or strong-armed, where I’m trying to brutalize you into agreeing with me.
“Pissed Jeans is me flapping my lips” he says. (He’s referring to the lyrics; the musicians write the music together.) “But now I’m just trying to listen more. My experience isn’t universal, so let me hear from other people and get a better perspective.
“I just really enjoy this kind of music,” he says. “And I think my bandmates do, too. If we get our instruments in a room somewhere, this is what we like sounding like. And I think people discount how many women like to hear loud, heavy, obnoxious guitars. Just like guys can enjoy sensitive, songwriter R&B acoustic music. You can like whatever you like, really.”
With M Ax Noi Mach and Body Spray, 8:30 p.m. Friday, Boot & Saddle, 1131 S. Broad St. Sold out. 267-639-4528, bootandsaddlephilly.com.
With Mannequin Pussy and Prowler, 8:30 p.m. Saturday, PhilaMOCA, 531 N. 12th St. All ages. Sold out. Philamoca.org.