This year alone we’ve gotten albums from California X, Milk Music, and Speedy Ortiz that reference the alt-rock sounds of the late 1980s – mid 1990s. Add to that mix the recent l0-fi (and totally fantastic) efforts from the likes of Waxahatchee and Swearin’ and the fact that Yuck are back in the studio, and it becomes clear that we’ve got a full-fledged 1990s revival on our hands.
I was at what would be considered (for any normal person, anyway) prime music consuming age during the 1990s; so I’ve got more than a little soft spot for the sounds of Dinosaur Jr., My Bloody Valentine, and Pinkerton. So when I get an album to review, like Pity Sex’s Feast of Love, that comes from our current 1990s revival and deals in so many of my beloved sounds, I have to be careful. Do I enjoy it because it’s good, or do I enjoy it as some form of nostalgia?
Pity Sex are a quartet out of Ann Arbor, MI. On Feast of Love, they don’t pull any punches in terms of their sound. From the feedback and distortion that opens the record on “Wind-Up,” to the often buried in the mix vocals of Brennan Greaves and Britty Drake, to the feedback and distortion (which sounds like it could be the first half of what we heard to open the record) that closes the album on “Fold,” Pity Sex have produced a collection that fully immerses the listener in the sounds of 1990s alt-rock and shoegaze pop.
Songs like “Keep,” “Drown Me Out,” and “Smoke Screen” achieve that balance between hard rock and bubblegum pop that Weezer were so good at in their prime. “Drawstring” does that My Bloody Valentine thing of taking an oddly distorted guitar sound and turning it into an infectious riff. “Hollow Body” is the outlier here. It trades the wall of sound approach of much of the record for, simply, guitar and Drake’s vocals.
Greaves and Drake each take lead vocal duties on about half the songs here. Greaves is sleepy and slackery, while Drake is plaintive and distant. Both work well within the stew of swirling distorted guitars.
I like this record. And I don’t think it’s all about nostalgia. A band can mimic the sounds of the past to push the nostalgia button, but it takes quality songs for an album to be more than an homage to the past. Feast of Love has the sound. Over the course of its short 28 minutes, you begin to realize that it also has the songs.
Feast of Love is out now on Run For Cover Records, and you can catch Pity Sex when they come to Asbury Lanes along with The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die and Modern Baseball on August 25th.