Review: Pkew Pkew Pkew- Optimal Lifestyles (Big Scary Monsters/Dine Alone)

Posted: April 2, 2019 in Reviews

I can tell from the first note that Toronto’s Pkew Pkew Pkew is having a hell of a fun time. The music is bright and engaging, and drinking plays a prominent role in the lyrics of many of the songs. For example, the opening track, “Hangin’ Out After All These Years,” is an enthusiastic song, sounding like it’s full of joy. You have to feel like jumping around like an ass to this song about meeting up with old friends and falling back into the same old nihilistic patterns of getting drunk, passing out on the couch, not worrying about it, and getting breakfast in the morning. “That’s the only plan I’m ever going to have for tomorrow,” the song defiantly declares to anyone who would demand more of us. And “Mt. Alb” is an ode to getting people to buy you booze when you’re too young and getting underage wasted in somebody’s basement. That’s all there is to the song! Many songs center around just existing – not about anything more profound than being with friends, having fun, trying to get by, and looking back at younger days and seeing that not a lot has changed. “Everything’s The Same” is probably the most introspective sounding song, and directly touches on this theme of comparing the present to the past.

I love “65 Nickels,” a song with a spectacular arrangement, going from loud and raucous to quiet – yet still raucous. The interjections of the guitars are perfect in these quiet parts. The lyrics seem to refer to a relationship gone bad (“Sixty-five nickels in my pocket / It’s better than walking with you / ‘Cause I got sixty-five nickels in my pocket / For every shitty thing you put me through”), but things will be okay. Many of the songs seem to be about either resignation or celebration of our lot in life. “Passed Out” makes reference to joking about “living the dream,” but “I don’t dream when I’m passed out, and I never really dream much at all” we’re reminded. The song talks about moving from meaningless job to meaningless job, aimless. “I won’t blame anyone else,” the song says about the situation, “‘Cause the only one torturing me is myself.” And the closing track, “Thirsty and Humble,” hammers the aimlessness home with an anthem to doing pretty much nothing. “The plans we make never turn out right,” the song avers. “The afternoon turned into the night / And it bummed a smoke and it asked for a light / I’m on the wrong side of town / Too wasted to drive / Yeah, the afternoon turned into the night.”

My favorite track of the album is the second one, “I Don’t Matter At All.” The song simply sparkles, with guitars up an octave. The melody glides, with alternating ascending and descending scales, and the bubbly instrumentals are contrasted with desperate vocals, promising to change and do better, but also dejectedly declaring that “every now and then I get reminded that I don’t really matter at all.” It’s an interesting dichotomy, feeling worthless, yet insisting that you’ll make a difference.

Yeah, Pkew Pkew Pkew seem to be having a blast. But look a little deeper. Are they? Listen to these songs and see if you can figure it out. It’s debatable if those lyrics are all happy live-in-the-moment or if they’re more I’m-wasting-my-life. At the very least, you’ll have listened to some pretty great songs.

Check it out here: https://pkewx3.bandcamp.com/album/optimal-lifestyles

PS

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