Needles//Pins' Self-Titled Album Is as Tight as It Gets
Published May 27, 2021Four years removed from Good Night, Tomorrow, Vancouver punk veterans Needles//Pins return with a new collection of dirty, gritty and reliably catchy tunes. In 2017, the band's third album left behind the '70s power-pop revivalism of their first couple of records in exchange for the gruff, folksy melodies of mid-2000s orgcore. Now, they've been working on tightening up their act and pushing for a spot in their hall of heroes. Needles//Pins would fit perfectly on the rosters of Jade Tree, No Idea or Fat Wreck among shoo-in The Fest headliners like the Lawrence Arms, Hot Water Music, Against Me! and Off with Their Heads.
In this album, guitar chords are as much of a language as lyrics. Whether it's the bittersweet folk-rock of "Woe Is Us," the downtempo blues of "Winnipeg '03," or the anthemic punk rock of "A Rather Strained Apologetic," Needles//Pins take a tried-and-true approach to songcraft that's admittedly uninventive but, in many cases, undoubtedly effective. These songs are loaded up with finely tuned melodies and group-effort harmonies. With 10 songs clocking in a total of less than 23 minutes, the record is also about as tight and efficient as it gets.
Adam Solomonian's gravelly, whiskey-soaked voice leads the way through songs about being down on your luck, weary with the world or just flat-out bored and lonely. "We are nothing anyhow / Get so close but we can't get out," he sings in the steadily rising ennui of "Gleamer." Solomonian still only has one setting — occasionally undermining the band's dynamics — but in that sincere, full-blast delivery, he does sound the most natural he has ever sounded. Plus, it ought to work like a charm if the goal is to get a room full of sweaty people singing along.
Despite the buzzsaw guitars, full-steam-ahead rhythms and raw-throated vocal delivery, the album has a comforting feel to it — a sense of nostalgic Americana glimmering under the grit. It's not just because the trio have wisely incorporated musical touches like the warm hum of an organ and the subtle twang of an acoustic guitar; the songs just tend to ring with familiarity.
Granted, there are already lots of bands that sound exactly like this (and, while we're being honest, it's not exactly a sound that's particularly in fashion these days). But what makes Needles//Pins largely worthwhile is that the band have written some really good songs with strong hooks, lots of energy and a touch of melancholy. For all the flannelled punks out there, this is a great record to rehearse for the next summer festival season. (Dirt Cult Records)