When punk was “born” back in the mid-70s, it quickly morphed into new and exciting strains from its “two chords and scream” beginnings. The immediacy of it became the most adaptable and reusable component, used as interchangeably as a cog in the ever-growing machinery of music. The modest foundation of punk became that vessel to move new ideals in art, politics, and feminism as well as genres such as free-jazz and no-wave. That lion heart still beats strong today in the Brooklyn quartet of Pill. They draw from forty years of punk-inspired history on their debut, citing the Godmothers of punk in X-Ray Spex to the textured noise of Teenage Jesus and The Jerks. Not only does Pill also utilize that blaring telltale saxophone, but they take those propagandistic ideals and scrawl new battle cries for the present day.
With sputters and wails, Pill’s Convenience comes to life with “60 Sec.”. Like a newborn bird, the album is not quite ready to fly. Instead, it squawks for sustenance with lead vocalist Veronica Torres pleading for notice: “My body congealed and dripping off of my major monuments/ My body congealed and sticking to your fingertips”. This is pure no-wave, less about considerations and tunefulness, but more about statements and revolution. The intensity grows quickly for “Which Is True?”, formidable enough now to be nudged from its nest to take flight. Squeals of pointed sax skronk are the phoenix’s cry, soaring to an explosion of innovative restlessness. “And when I awoke/ I emerged from a gilded egg on the shore/ Bare bottomed knees torn/ And with my creativity stolen from me/ For another”. The bass line straightjackets the song down as guitar and horn struggle for freedom. Pill’s artful daggering of their instruments goes beyond noise rock, it is insolence in the face of metered expectations.
Torres begins to build constructs for her verse as Convenience progresses, erecting lurid scenarios where her imagination is free to flourish. “Love serenade in a hand grenade/Love serenade in a bondage game” is reeled over punk energy, both needy and adversarial. Art becomes personal as the theme develops for “100% Cute”. The juxtaposition of affected phrases and relentless clamor add another layer of meaning to the mixture: “The dream of ruination/ Telepathy!/ The dream of ruination/ Of letting you feel me”. Love and sex, pain as pleasure, and the agony of allowing another person into your world culminates in cacophony, drawing a parallel to falling for someone as a car-crash trauma of fragile emotions.
To create emphasis, Pill turns it down rather than raising the volume. Workplace conflict only needs subdued bleats, strums, and xylophone on “Speaking Up”. Taking on the fading patriarchy for “My Rights”, the instruments are understated yet insistent as Torres makes her case for queer liberty and body control Her position is both at the forefront of today’s politics and steeped in history, shamefully still needing be to perpetually restated for both the punk community and the establishment. “Love & Other Liquids” seems to be her most personal turn as Torres goes bilingual, flipping between Spanish and English or more telling, poetry and frankness. “I am your smiling happy girl” she coos in a Kim Gordon-channeling moment, citing the annals and clenching the fist of punk feminism. “Medicine” honors it all in tone and theme, with the sardonic declaration “The war is over!”, knowing well that they are just getting started. Pill is a band built on an undying tradition of musical rebellion, but with a current directive that is as necessary now as it was forty years ago.
Convenience is available now.