Pill: Convenience

Pill is a Brooklyn based noise-punk/no wave band. That may sound pretty typical, but Pill’s debut, Convenience is far from just typical. The album manages to introduce the band in a very safe but stellar manner while simultaneously shaking things up just enough.

Convenience isn’t inventive, but it is put together very well. Pill manages to draw from the entire noise-canon and pack it up into a single album with a gnarled punk bow on top. At times, it seems as if somebody resurrected Teenage Jesus and The Jerks. Pill’s style is absolutely solid.

Convenience opens with, “60 Sec.” which is relentless noise mixed with a rant. The song is appropriately brief and serves as a great introduction of what’s to come. There’s a cut and the second track, “Which Is True,” begins. It’s sort of demented and circus like. There’s something nightmarish about the whole experience as a variety of instruments clamor together. Something screams OOIOO or similar. It’s overwhelming and sucks you in –completely hypnotizing.

The album progresses like a freak show of release. There’s something honest about Pill’s music. At times, it seems very carefully planned and calculated –then in opposition, an outburst of thought and feeling that is, frankly, difficult to do well –and Pill pulls it off. The fourth track, “Fetish Queen,” is a dark punk jam that captures this dynamic perfectly. As the song begins, the band performs with a certain precision and certainty. As the song progresses things get noisier and faster, the percussion seems louder and more driven, and finally, there’s a climax of guitar and horn, the vocalist, all mixed with a side of percussion that pounds.

Aside from all the noise and punk and this and that, Pill isn’t afraid to mix it up. One of the more out there songs, “Sex With Santa,” really feels like it shows off Pill’s best. The band busts into a jam. It builds slow and with an eerie, doom atmosphere. The horns are let loose and howl left and right. Screeching and screaming are added and you become certain you stumbled upon field recordings from the apocalypse. Pill packs an atmospheric punch like no other.

Pill’s debut does feel like it comes with some minor caveats and for how well Convenience stands up, there’s really no shame in admitting them. Often times, the band is cacophonous, and not in a good way. Vocals will feel tacked on to an otherwise badass jam (perhaps vice versa) or maybe the saxophone will come across as forgettable. Truthfully, the saxophone often feels more like a gimmick –but with huge room for potential. These off moments strike as if the band isn’t certain as to what they were reaching for. Maybe there needs to be some more balance. Regardless the album is at worst a neat, quirky listen. Convenience forecasts some serious potential.

I might love Convenience. Pill mixes punk, jazz, noise –a variety of songs with a variety of influence. It’s dizzying and intense but very well done. Admittedly, the first time I listened to Convenience, I hated it until I heard the final song, “Medicine.” And it warranted a second listen that made me fall for the album. “Medicine,” starts surfy, with a strong bass and a Dick Dale guitar line. The band takes on a bit of that slacker punk vibe and then bursts into more alternative, grungy jams. The song just continues to build on itself and open up for more variation. The vocalist gains a certain fervor. Something about the song feels very 80’s but still cool. The last minute or so of the song is dedicated to an all out clamorous jam. The saxophone player lets out a solid lick and more horns join in. It’s climatic and the whole performance kills. Truthfully, the song is in its own right the most refreshing track in the punk scene as of late.

Convenience isn’t an essential, but if you’re into noise, you probably should listen to it. Without a doubt, Pill has produced a pretty stunning debut. The band manages to take inspiration, mix it with some serious creative efforts, and produce a powerful sound. Convenience is killer.

Rating: 8.5/10

1 Comment

  • Greg Scranton says:

    great review John! Saw them open for Parquet Courts and they were pretty excellent. I will say I’m not sure about there ripoff of Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ artwork for their album art though.

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