Pkew Pkew Pkew also recently revealed a run of UK tour dates for May 2019 supporting hotly-tipped LA punks du jour Spanish Love Songs, and as a taster of the new album the band are streaming lead single ‘I Don’t Matter At All’ in full, breaking straight into the Spotify New Punk Tracks playlist today.
While Pkew Pkew Pkew’s 2016 self-titled debut angled more towards the minutiae of the late-20s punk life, Optimal Lifestyles catalogues and reflects on the root causes of the band’s previous fun-loving, hard-partying behaviour with unflinching clarity and precision. Front man Mike Warne writes songs in the same tongue as plot-driven realists like The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn, who actually went to Toronto to workshop songs with the band for the record.
A standout moment from those sessions is lead single, ‘I Don’t Matter At All’. Much like the album itself, the song is a giant leap forward for Warne’s songwriting, pulling inspiration from The Hold Steady, of course, but leaning deeper into the retro-rock feel of bands like The Strokes and Japandroids, too.
“Is this good or is this bad?” ponders Warne of the lifestyle Pkew sings about. “It’s fun to live like an idiot, but it’s probably bad, also. We’re all constantly wondering if we’ve ruined our lives forever or not, being in a band.”
Song-by-song, Optimal Lifestyles lays out a journal of the sort of living Warne speaks of, but this isn’t a jokey, bro-ish shrug-off of his circumstances, and neither is Pkew’s a purely self-indulgent self-destruction. It’s an acceptance of the circular futility of life in Toronto, increasingly marked by hellishly-accelerated rent increases and unfeeling gentrification.
More than anything, this record is about trying to cope with a city, an industry, and a world that increasingly doesn’t seem to give a shit about people—only money. So Pkew Pkew Pkew cope by calling out the bullshit.
Pkew Pkew Pkew’s central thesis is that things might get fucked up from time to time, but there’s still value in trying. Warne testifies that though it’s a Sisyphean, almost masochistic, struggle to be in a band in 2018, it’s better than the alternative, like joining the vulgar charade that is the fraudulently-earnest, vapid hugging-crowd at beige adult parties, where no one is really happy, but everyone pretends to be.
Warne and the rest of Pkew are honest about where they’re at in life, and over time, one comes to realize that their sardonic wit cloaks a quiet optimism.
“There’s always something better, and it makes sense to try for it,” Warne says. “That’s the shitty and good part: you still do it, cause otherwise you’ve given up.”
May 2019 UK Tour Dates w/ Spanish Love Songs:
07.05.19 – Brighton – The Hope & Ruin
08.05.19 – Manchester – Soup Kitchen
09.05.19 – Birmingham – The Flapper
10.05.19 – Bristol – The Exchange
11.05.19 – London – New Cross Inn