Poking their heads out from obscurity in London, all-girl noise-pop trio PENS is what you would expect to hear from sewer dwellering girls who have over time collected scrapped instruments and the recording equipment neccesary to make an album. But they aren’t, and they really don’t care how it sounds.“Hey Friend, What You Doing? is a merging of scuzzy, lo-fi garage rock made from these girls’ boredom, youth, and just wanting to hang out with each other.
“High In The Cinema” should make that very clear; “Hey girl, what you doin’, wanna hang out? / Even though we got no money, we can always do something” are opening moans heard over a decaying keyboard. The song goes from a calm invite to hang out, to a spastic, rapid-fire demand, and just as quickly back to that laid-back invite. It might also be good to note that “High In The Cinema” and songs like “Horsies” and “Freddy”, which make a better effort for melody than the rest of the album, probably won’t give you a headache as much as the latter of the album.
That latter ends up being songs like “Fukufuckinfuck” and “Yeah Baby I’ll Take You To Bagel Town” that sound just as crude as they are titled. This where the album goes from noise-pop to just plain noise. Catchy synths are ditched for guitar, and the drums sound scratchier than ever. These songs don’t introduce themselves as well as the aforementioned songs do, and become repetitive with the almost the same formula each time. It proves a frustrating challenge to tell them apart, same way with how The Ramones can become repetitive, but at least with The Ramones you know there is an actual song happening.
“Hey Friend, What You Doing?” ends up being one-half cheerful synth-driven noise-pop(“I Sing Just For You”, “Horsies”) that brings out the band’s good side, and one-half dull and forgettable thrash(“I Heart U”, “Hide The Kids”), that just is not very pleasant to listen to, at all. The album starts out great with promise, making you almost unable to tear away from it’s charming pop and vocal whines that make it shine, but from there it only becomes an unfortunate and unexpected mess. PENS was created out of friendship and boredom, and after listening to their debut, it’s obvious they were pretty bored when making this.[Rating: 2.5/5]
REVIEW BY NORREL BLAIR