When: Fri., March 10 2017
One of the more bizarre side effects of last year's presidential election was the instant meme-ification of every snappy soundbite. Within twenty-four hours of the words being uttered, whether we wanted it or not, we could buy T-shirts, bearing messages of "bad hombre," "nasty woman," "they go low, we go high," and so on. But unlike a sparkly stylized quip on an Etsy coffee mug, Raleigh's Pie Face Girls really are nasty. On Formative Years, the band's debut full-length on Negative Fun, they show how much they mean it.
The record opens up with "Washed Out," which is a thrilling takedown of the kind of unsavory behavior that men impose upon others at shows. "If you think your cover charge buys you limitless remarks, you can keep your rite of passage," shouts guitarist and vocalist Dani Hoffpauir, before she goes on to squeal, "Here's your cake, now watch me eat it!" With bassist Tiffany Huff and drummer Klay Misenheimer, Hoffpauir delights in being crass, coarse, and impolite, which is a welcome break in step from fussy, squeaky-clean indie rock.
Formative Years is full of clever barbs, which are generally directed outward (see "Get On the Floor," which opens with the trio yelling, "That girl's got the cla-aaaap!"), but moments of emotional honesty hide behind sludgy, chugging riffs. There's a twinge of defeat in Hoffpauir's flat delivery of "You're like coffee, and I'm cigarettes/Together we're a pleasant but poisonous mix" on "O Piss," but the song twists into a warped and wonderful come-on.
Pie Face Girls never bother with trying to be cutsey or coy—rather, Formative Years is a bold, at times even aggressive assertion of identity and desire. The final few seconds of Formative Years deliver a crackling cackle from Misenheimer at the end of "Fuck You I'm Pretty," which makes for a fine closing note: You can take it or leave it, and Pie Face Girls probably won't give a shit either way. They'll keep cackling, cussing, and shredding whether you like it or not. —Allison Hussey