Reprinted without permission from Uncut, September 1997
PIGEONHED: THE FULL SENTENCE
**** (4 stars)
Here's what you do. Get some people round your place after the pub, skin up and whack on some loud music. After half an hour of decibels and bullshit, you stick the second Pigeonhed album in the CD machine, progam it to play tracks five and two, in that order, and sit back to watch their expressions. Greg Dulli of The Afghan Whigs did much the same thing to me a year ago (not that I hang around with the likes of Greg Dulli; I was merely interviewing the man): plied me with weed and hit me with Battleflag and The Full Sentence. He grinned like a B-movie villain as he saw my jaw drop. "When there's a revolution in rock," he proclaimed, "you've got to let the people know."
Now, not everything on here is as good as those two tracks. Battleflag is worthy of Prince at his long-ago peak; clattering, threatening, funkier than drunken sex. "Is it time for you to get down?" sneers a preacher's voice from the back of a pimp-mobile. "on your motherfuckin' knees!" Yup, it will be. And the title track is pure aching simplicity; a slow beatbox shuffle, a bassline, a synth and a gorgeous falsetto ode of stoical longing. The next trick to pull is to show your guests the picture of the band: two beardy white blokes, one of whom has clearly been buying his pies wholesale. This seems to shock them even more than the music.
Steve Fisk and Shawn Smith are a pair of Seattle-ites who started off with a taste for On-U Sound. They spend their time in the studio receiving visitors from the grunge aristocracy. Between them they've been largely responsible for Washington supergroups Satchel and Brad. This album is the most imaginative thing to come out of the US Northwest in years, gorging itself on white funk, black slang, electro, guitar mayhem and unashamed quantities of high-fat pomp-rock. It is hideously fucking long, and listening to the whole thing in one go will lend a new meaning to the title. Try out a few tracks at a time. Amaze your friends.