Smile Politely

“My lightning bolt, my filament”: Hank.’s Pinched. in review

In the complex world of human dramatics exists an unmistakable, anxious tension that erodes trust among strangers in times of hardship and crisis. Sometimes it’s impossible for us to pinpoint the blame of tragedy and misfortune on any specific individual, and we become overwhelmed by this sense of not knowing why bad things happen, or why we make wrong decisions. Bad thoughts bottle up easily, and breaking them out is often a hard, unforgiving process. No one certainly intends on saying hurtful things, but they always burst out of the limelight in the wierdest keys, the most unusual scales, and with the most jolting effects.

In Hank.’s debut album, Pinched, there’s no doubt that these feelings will do more than just nip at your shoulders. Between thrashing chords of hardcore emo math rock, you might just catch a grotesque glimpse of the darkest parts of your heart being ripped right out of your ribcage by a Thuggee high priest in the Temple of Doom. It may sound like an extremely uncomfortable experience, but it’ll be one you won’t want to forget anytime soon.

Your blood might even by be gushing by just the second song on the album, “Judging Giraffe Always Looks Down”. Before the lyrics, Teddy Lerch paints an excruciatingly detailed scene of storming guitar melodies bouncing off Darwin Keup’s bluesy bass jams, seamlessly bursting with classic, harcdcore energy from each change in key and time signature.

Hank. — “Jedidiah”

[[mp3 hank_jedidiah]]

In the following song Keup’s powerful intro with vocals so raw and feisty I could have already yelled them at my father as a teenager: “No, I will set and an example of myself by any mean necessary. / I will not be a ghost in this ghost world, I will be a ghoul, I will be a fiend, I will have terror on my side.” Throughout the entire album, elements of losing one’s childhood innocence are laiden like shards of shattered bottles and ceramic dishes in each verse and measure of the rhythmic structure in Lerch’s melodies. Time signatures transgress with not the banality of adolescent high school days but of dreadfully endless nights, when your parents never stop yelling or might not even come home at all. Each measure is composed with this jarring mixture of angst, regret and audible aggression, which comes off with an oddly upbeat attitude at times. This chemical balance couldn’t be any more clear in the outro jam of “Suffer The Children”:

Our mothers said
Our fathers said
We’d know from right
We’d know from wrong

It’s a certain yet common insanity composed by not understanding the self-deprecation of inner youth, no matter how old any listener may find themselves. Perhaps the most intense moment of Pinched. hits in “Keanu Becomes The Reeves”, deeply embedded with the affliction of forgoing familial roots and obligations. Although the lyrics and guitar seem to hit the apex of distortion in this song, it’s matched with a perfectly suited outro that I found surprisingly calming, compared to the rest of the album: “As if it were a seed that grows in a garden / I buried in my head the thought / Of a lifeless costume born again / Into an extensive wardrobe collection.”

Hank. — “Keanu Becomes The Reeves”

[[mp3 hank_keanu]]

Overall, Pinched. is a phenomenally written album engineered by the most primal emotions one could endure in adolescence, adulthood, and crisis. For someone that was never caught by the first emo wave of the early 2000’s, I’d be blatantly lying if Hank.’s debut album didn’t immediately capture my respect and attention. For anyone enduring a overwhelming period of misfortune, Pinched. is without a doubt the perfect filament to light up the haphazard nature of life’s affliction for chaos. As for me, I certainly got my fill of it.

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