Having established their post-punk bona fides on Girls Like Us, PINS give their music more nuance and color on Wild Nights. Producer Dave Catching helps the band hone their attack on grinding rockers like "Baby Bhangs" and "Oh Lord," both of which suggest what Girls Like Us might have sounded like with some extra muscle. This newfound heft and focus ratchet up the tension that makes PINS so riveting at their finest: On "Too Little, Too Late"'s slowly swaggering verses and withering bridge, the band radiate menace but seem too cool to really kick up some dust -- then, just before the song ends, they do exactly that. Similarly, "Molly"'s serpentine riffs and coded lyrics offer a scenic route to danger that feels more ominous than a straightforward outburst. However, the ways PINS expand their sound are arguably even more impressive than the ways they refine it. Sometimes the additions are subtle, like the psychedelic guitars and sensual vocal harmonies that round out "Curse These Dreams" (which also showcases bassist Anna Donigan and drummer Lara Williams' flowing rhythms); other times, they're attention-getting, like the narcotic ballad "Got It Bad" or the sweetly surfy "Dazed by You." The band's turn toward pop works surprisingly well, especially on "Young Girls," which is just as bold and unsentimental in its own way ("we're not trying to be brave/we don't want to be saved") as PINS' more expected feral rock. At first, Wild Nights' shifts from song to song could give unsuspecting listeners whiplash, but even if it isn't as cohesive as Girls Like Us was, its moments of brilliance show how much they've grown.
(Digital Download - PIAS #PIASDIGITAL490)
Review by Heather Phares