Hot Slick is PINS' first album for five years, a period where they've undergone a line-up change, losing original members before regrouping as a three-piece. Crunching guitars are replaced by bright synths and drum machines as the music's distinctive characteristic, mirrored by the bold, colourful artwork that represents both the album itself and its accompanying singles.
The departure of bassist Anna and drummer Sophie necessitated a rethink of PINS' way of working, and, in many ways, the interim releases between 2015's Wild Nights and Hot Slick have plotted the course between the two albums in a way that Hot Slick feels like the natural destination for PINS version 2020. Aggrophobe, their Iggy Pop collaboration, Bad Thing and Serve The Rich created the template that has blossomed out on their third album. Self-releasing the record completes the cycle of bold independence and Hot Slick feels like PINS have found the space where they can be themselves and do exactly what they want.
Hot Slick's opening seconds might scream Donna Summer's I Feel Love, but that in itself is a perfect scene-setter for what's to come. It's laying down a marker. There's a lot of repetition on the record lyrically within each song ("Getaway, getaway, I gotta getaway" on the title track being the first instance) - and it feels like rather than revealing a lack of ideas, it's setting everything in bold, then underlining it and then increasing the font size to the maximum and leaving you, as the listener, to deal with it if you can, because PINS aren't going to change for you.
That theme of independence runs through the record. Ponytail's "I wear high heels with my guitar, hold my hands up like a star" and "yes, I will be out tonight, I whip my ponytail from side to side, yes I will be up all night" lines are delivered with a self-confidence that's laced with both seriousness and fun. It says they're here to have fun, but don't give them any shit or you're in trouble. If you need telling twice, After Hours has Faith telling you "say my name and say it again, I got you caught up like a dog at the end of a chain."
Bad Girls Forever spells it out literally. "Bad Girls do it better, B-A-D Girls F-O-R-ever" acts a call to the dancefloor or the stage as PINS' message to women to be themselves and ensure that they are both seen and heard even though the rest of the world might try and suppress them. The departure of their rhythm section has allowed a more beat-driven approach to add even more emphasis to this message and freedom to express themselves more vibrantly.
They're not interested in backchat either. Read My Lips has the fabulously curt putdown "so you think you're better, you were never better, write in a letter, send it to whoever... whatever ... with my hair in the air, I don't care" whilst they're out on the dance floor strutting to the track's towering beat.
Daisies and Set Me Off show off Hot Slick's more melodic side and provide a little respite from the punishing beat driven approach of the album's lead tracks, multiple vocals layered on each other taking the harder edge off what's gone on around them without diverting too far off message. Love You To Death, to all intents a duet with Faith's husband Mark of Leather Party, is very much an outlier and not in keeping with the other nine tracks, but provides variety to the record rather than a distraction.
The most recent single Ghosting takes things back to the dancefloor, a track you could imagine having huge beats laid across it and Faith's "there's a hole in my soul that you can keep on digging" and "I can't control myself when I'm like this" sampled to high heaven. Hot Slick is rounded off by fan favourite Bad Habit which feels like a joining point between the old and the new PINS sound.
Hot Slick might turn off those that first met PINS as the punky spiky five-piece that might have ripped your head off if you looked at them the wrong way when they first emerged - and there will be some for whom the transition from LUVU4LYF and Shoot You Down will be too much. But Hot Slick, using the artwork as an analogy for the music, is the butterfly spreading its wings revealing its colours compared to the two-toned cocoon of their early releases out of which they've emerged over the past eight years. They're out of the dance floor having the most fun they've ever had, it's up to you whether you want to join them or not.