This Is For Real
hen I pick music to bring on a trip, I rarely take albums that I’m about to review. I’ve been listening to those discs constantly and I relish the chance to put on some old favorites for a while. So it was with surprise that I found myself humming along to songs from This Is For Real while away this weekend.
I had initially approached the record (the Sheffield sextet’s first) with a large amount of trepidation. The band name, titles and packaging all set my teeth on edge, and although that doesn’t always translate over into the listening experience I was wary. But as I found out, whatever else can be said about Pink Grease, you can’t deny their way with a catchy tune.
The first time through I was not terribly impressed; it says in the liner notes that Pink Grease “salute Liars, The 80’s Matchbox B-Line Disaster, Prey, Add N To (X), Ladytron, Performance and Selfish Cunt”, but This Is For Real was nowhere near as weird and mechanical as that might lead you to expect. Instead we get another scummy garage rock retread, spruced up with keyboards and occasional saxophone replete with self-consciously “wacky”, “funny” and “sexy” lyrics.
But once you get used to Pink Grease as another low-key retread, and This Is For Real as just another party album for hipsters, it grows on you. The best bits, surprisingly, are the parts where the Pink Grease approach seriousness; “Peaches” is a maybe-breakup song that staggers and swoons where most of the tracks swagger, and “Into My Heart” an unexpectedly anthemic declaration of devotion; opener “Remember Forever” even takes a good stab at Stooges-esque frenzy. And some of the more raucous material, like “Party Live”, has its balls far enough to the wall to work. “Serial Heartbreaker” even lives up the deadbeat grooves of the band’s influences (a shame it does so all by itself).
All this doesn’t mean This Is For Real is flawless; over-the-top self-conscious silliness (as epitomized on “The Nasty Show” and “Emotional Retard”) gets old relatively quick. “The Pink G.R.EASE” proves once again that Midnite Vultures was three or four years ahead of the pack (for good or ill). But even at its worst This Is For Real is nothing more reprehensible than skuzzy, vaguely pretentious pop, while boasting a host of memorable hooks. So even if, like me, you find the lyrics and Elton John-style coda to “Superfool” annoying, you’ll probably also find yourself singing along; this is the sort of record whose vices, if you give it a chance, slowly become virtues.