We’re not quite half way through 2015, but this year has already been a somewhat momentous one for PINS. They’ve notched up tours with Sleater Kinney, Wire and Drenge – and last night they played ahead of a reunited Babes In Toyland at Shepherd’s Bush Empire.
Tonight, however, they’re going it alone, and the Lexington is packed to the rafters – so much so that a rather concerned looking Faith Holgate urges those squidged at the back to move forward “you’re almost out of the door!” she pleads.
So what is it that’s wooed the major league bands and fans alike?
If we told you it was a group of five girls from Manchester who sound like The Shangri-Las, The Stooges and The Jesus and Mary Chain all hooked up and had a late night, booze-fuelled jam session, would you believe us? It sounds bonkers, but then so are PINS. As Holgate hurtles out her breathy, guttural vocals, guitarist Lois McDonald leers into the crowd, snarling and mouthing along. Sophie Galpin, on drums, steers the band with abandon, her sweat-dampened curls flying about, bassist Anna Donigan struts about with a disaffected cool-as-ice glare, while new member Kyoko Swan mans the keys, occasionally supplementing this with Bez-like moves.
Tonight’s the launch of their second album, Wild Nights, which is being released by Bella Union next month. It sees them take giants steps from their 2013 debut, Girls Like Us, moulding a bigger, more accomplished sound. Where we called their first “an album full of promise, poise and brio”, its follow up fills in those gaps, the teeny cracks in need of filling, and the overall affect is a record that does them far more justice than its predecessor ever did. PINS have always been a live band – they’ve earned their rapidly growing fan base on the back of their debauched shows – but it finally feels like their records are catching up with their performances.
In the publicity for their new single, Too Little Too Late, the band themselves said: “Writing the lyrics was very cathartic, they spewed out like hot lava from an angry volcano. It is a middle-finger-to-the-world kind of song and the video mirrors that notion. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!” The attitude, angst and fun is spilling into their recordings.
That song is a highlight tonight, its blistering, seething lyrics – “I forgot to wish you a happy birthday, I hope it doesn’t spoil your party” – making it a menacing prospect. House Of Love already sounds like an old favourite, and all but Galpin (constrained by her drum kit) congregate at the front of the stage, eyeballing the audience. Girls Like Us has become their anthem and, in a nod to the girls to front movement that swept through the riot grrrl scene, they urge the men gathered at the front of the stage: “Ladies to the front! C’mon, c’mon…let them through!” before Holgate joins them to roar through the song. Against this backdrop of droney, post-punk, delicious harmonies work the noise into something satisfyingly melodic and, at times, even catchy.
Tonight was intense but celebratory; as balloons float about the room, the audience tuck into the party bags of sweets dished out at the door and streamers are let off across the floor. PINS feel like a band on the cusp of something big – and even people listening to their record from the comfort of their homes can feel it now.