TRACK | Pile – No Hands

5/5 golden merles

Pile makes a kind of post-punk rock that feels to me like pure commiseration. The work fruitfully balances the lyrically introspective with a to-life-scale ominous and sweeping dread, often riding a wave of mounting instrumentation. And, importantly, there always remains an untouchable, defiant core.

The chorus of “No Hands” is a melody applied to a somewhat recontextualized quote from Voltaire and a tremendous line in its own right:

Anything too stupid to be said is sung.

The line is critical and humorous in both its origin and repurposing. The song is picking up a dialogue that has been largely dormant or at best quietly admired for three hundred years. And it is done in a type of refined media that feels worthy of contributing to the earlier discussion, expounding on it, and, even in agreement, allowing “the musician” (even one immensely aware of the limitations of their medium) to reply in some format.

It places a sort of self-loathing in a broader historical context, contrasting it with nevertheless undeterred artistic ambition, and revels in these contradictions of self-expression. And in this work you get a piece that celebrates all the doubt and glory of ever doing anything. All that adds up to feeling quite a lot bigger than most songs of any given genre.

In my ignorance, I didn’t know how well beloved these folks were, as this track was my first exposure. But seeing the support on Bandcamp is comforting and reassuring. It’s an incredible closer.

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