About ten years ago I used to buy up job lots of CDs and flog them on eBay. I did ok for a while, but in the end the effort didn’t justify the returns, and I was saddled with a stack of crap I couldn’t shift. In one of those lots was an EP by Pinhead Nation entitled ‘Shock Giro’. It had an interesting cover. The name stuck for some reason, even if the music didn’t, and I think I ended up dumping the CD on a local charity shop.
So to receive a copy of their debut album in my review pile was rather a surprise. Recording began on it some 17 years ago. Under different circumstances, the oft-used phrase ‘long-awaited’ would be appropriate, but as no-one was waiting for it – and given that few have even heard of the band and even fewer still can remember them – it doesn’t really apply.
Putting their decision to revisit the incomplete project down to the temperature and vibrations being ‘just right’ Pinhead Nation have produced an album that’s... well, not bad. It does, however, feel rather out of time. It sounds like a nineties album. Still, that shouldn’t be a criticism. After all, if every decade from the 50s-80s can be worthy of a revival, why not the nineties (beyond the grunge revival that’s been building momentum for some time now, that is)?
The majority of the songs are of the spiky guitar-based indie punk variety, and with a sociopolitical bent (albeit often with a certain tongue in cheek flippancy, as ‘Make Constructive Use of Your leisure’ and the Fall meets PWEI sneer of ‘Park and Ride’ illustrate). Elsewhere, on ‘Fetish’ and ‘Tetchy’, they sound like ‘Nurse’ era Therapy?, complete with distorted vocals and clattering drums.
There’s a low-budget, ramshackle feel to the album as a whole, and while the guys might be older – as the quirky and decidedly un-rock ‘n’ roll ‘I Love My Wife’ evidences – they’re not necessarily altogether wiser or more willing to compromise. And nor should they, dropping in killer choruses and catchy hooks with casual abandon. It’s clear they’re no musical careerists, either, so whatever the real reasons for this extremely belated return, we can be sure they’ve done it for the right reasons.
Pinhead Nation on MySpace