Pens are three girls from London, channeling lo-fi riffs through the usual mix of irony and nostalgia, even going so far as to re-create the awfulness of 80's VHS video on the promo for single High In The Cinema. Opener Horsies sets the scene, with layered vocals leading into a some furious drumming - which turns out to be the one trick of this pony, as witnessed on 1-2, Networking and more. There are some nice ideas and moments in here, but they tend to be just that - moments.
The majority of reference points that spring to mind all to easily here come from the past two years worth of DIY noise pop that has enjoyed something of a phenomena in terms of excitement. However all these bands have a pop hook around which to structure much of their abrasion. Whether using the surf rock template of Wavves, or the rockabilly charm of Sic Alps there was a hook buried somewhere and the thrill was digging for it and finding it. Times New Viking piled up all kinds of sonic rubble, but the reason you came back for another pummelling was the hook. Even Eat Skull's Sick To Death had me asking for more after receiving apparently so little, but Hey Friend What You Doing? fails to do this most basic of things on nearly every level.
Sure, they might be fun live - but if I want to see people jumping around there are already many outlets to fulfil that need. At the end of the day, music needs to work on many different levels. Much to be said for just getting on with things and doing it - as it's easy for me to sit here and slag this off, but with so little to actually engage the listener and barely a drip of originality of craftsmanship it's hard to do anything else.
The whole reality-TV induced message of 'anyone can do it' has a lot to answer for. Enthusiasm, wacky clothes and some toy instruments just aren't enough - bands need to start taking their time, getting things right and then releasing them. This casual effort has marked their card and Pens are one band who will certainly struggle to catch my attention again.