Saturday, May 6, 2017

When Pile came around

It took a while but the opportunity to see Pile in Los Angeles finally popped up a little over a week ago, which is quite lucky, as west coast visits don't generally happen. The group is made up of individually skilled musicians, including brilliant drummer Kris Kuss, perhaps the band's secret weapon, though what really stood out was the facial range of frontman Rick Maguire, who bore the terrified, deadpan grimace of Alan Huck and left little room to interact until the show was nearly over and he suddenly realized that it'd perhaps be the right thing to say a few words. On record, Maguire's voice projects a great deal of self-loathing, but when watching him, it becomes apparent that his voice simply projects -- flawlessly, effortlessly, out loud, with precise intent -- and it seems like a special treat to see him occasionally share a smile from the side of his face.

A Hairshirt of Purpose might be the easiest Pile album to latch onto thus far, and there are all sorts of marvelous details scattered throughout: the way the guitar riff on "Worms" mimics that on "Texas," the dour lines ("Not happy/not in love/but let's have a baby to save the marriage that we made up" and "So play in traffic/and have a kid/may every good deed be in self-interest" off "Leaning on a Wheel" are standouts). Rhyming "pathetic" with "eremitic," which is something only Fiona Apple could've pulled off up to now. And as has become standard with Pile, it contains no filler whatsoever, with nearly each song on the record being that song, the highlight you come to anticipate. In other cases, it'd be ridiculous to declare this one of the best records of the year, so early on, but there's no doubting that this one will be near the top of the list come December.

Just buy it all. There's not a bad one in the bunch.

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