I want Pariah Piranha's People People to work—and it almost does. Listening to their album is sort of like eating my mom’s homemade cooking instead of something gourmet. You can tell something is missing, but you don't know exactly what it is. Oregano? No, that’s not it. Pepper? Lemon juice? Pariah Piranha sounds, at times, like Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Then there’s some Bikini Kill, some Gossipalso, and even a little hint of Sleater-Kinney. But they don’t quite put it together the way that I want them to.
Pariah Piranha sounds a little too much like they’re being held back by something. I think part of the problem is that they attempt too many guitar solo interludes, which sound like they want to be gritty, except that they are just a little too dependent on power chords. The frustrating thing is that you can have simplistic guitar riffs and make them sound wicked, and sexy, and dirty—all of those things that rock music does when it is fantastic. Take “Sweet ‘69” by Babes in Toyland, “Touch Me I’m Sick” by Mudhoney, or even (bare with me through the cliché) “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by The Stooges. Stevie Ray Vaughan guitar bravado doesn’t exist on any of these songs, because these songs don’t need it.
Maybe all Pariah Piranha requires is a little more swagger. Add just a splash of Patti Smith and a major infusion of some serious ovaries and maybe they would have it right. Yes, I refuse to use balls here because I think most of the time it takes ovaries to be "ballsy." Besides, balls are icky (insert lesbian freelance writer making retching sounds here. HORF!).
Pariah Piranha almost get there with the song “Role Model,” but they still sound just a little like they are wearing a belt that is too tight. They need to be more like Shannon Wright. Not that I want them to be all angry and depressing like Wright—but I do want them to do what Wright does right. (Sorry for that. Pun gods are smiting me, I know.) I want them to put all of their insecurities, angst, love, lust, blood, and excrement—all of it—on a pike in the front yard and display it like a trophy.
That just means they need to find their own sound, and throw it around like a water balloon fight. It should be a little bit messy, but most importantly, it shouldn’t be afraid to soak through everything like that last green balloon bomb did through your underwear. So, Pariah Piranha, I implore you: be angry when you need to be, be sloppy when you need to be, and be quiet and powerful and restrained when you need to be. You’re almost there. Just let out a few notches on the ol’ belt. After all, even the normally quiet and acoustic Tegan and Sara let it all hang out, when they’re at their best.