Transatlantic pop chameleon Piney Gir returns with a shimmering new single called “The Great Pretend”, which is a celebration of analogue gear with a sound that nods back to when
music was on the cusp of change, just before synth pop and just after punk rock. Channeling Tony Visconti, Julee Cruise and Roxy Music, the song blends angular art rock with hooky riffs and strong
melodies. Piney’s lyrics are a little twisted and dark but with an ability to mean two things at once, like a backhanded compliment from Dorothy Parker.
Over the past few months Piney Gir has been touring with Gaz Coombes around the UK, Dublin and Paris and is also one of Gaz’s backing singers. She heads out on the next leg of the tour in June, supporting Gaz’s solo shows. Her live set-up features Garo Nahoulakian, who also plays in Gaz Coombes’ band.
The song was inspired by an eventful night spent at cult author Neil Strauss’s home in Malibu, where he lives in Rick Reuben’s tree house. As Piney explains; “I arrived on a balmy LA night with a full moon and the warm sea breeze lilting over the palm tree silhouettes, it was a real ‘how the other half live’ moment, this place was like paradise, full moon, palm trees. I introduced myself to the bodyguard at the door and took my place at the large table I was led to. There was an ex-prostitute-cum-presenter vomiting loudly in the toilet, there was an artist whose thing was painting large oil paintings of stills from porn films, then there was me and next to me was Matt the founder of Light In The Attic Records. I tried my first pickleback which is a dangerous kind of truth serum, and it got pretty weird; all the while I had this worry that I was some kind of an imposter, what am I doing in this treehouse in Malibu with this glitterati? I sometimes feel like I’ve got little girl lost syndrome, and Neil actually called me up on it and we had a very ‘sh*t got real’ kinda conversation, he had this ability to tap into my psyche in a way that I hadn’t encountered before. I was telling these people stuff I’d never told anyone and I left confused and elated by this weird night. This song is about that experience and how polarising it was in my strange brain. I knew I would never forget that night, although I didn’t know it would inspire a song, but here it is.”
Originally hailing from Kansas but having lived in London for many years, Piney is a prolific and prodigious musician. She is currently working on album number seven but previous output has spanned so many genres over time that fans of Piney never know what to expect, making her quite hard to pigeonhole. From electro to alt-country to folktronic to 60’s retro pop to krautrock, her new material lands at art pop with angles and spaces creating a real world of sound with deliberate spaces and spikes. There are still echoes of the signature Piney sound, with strong melodies, tuneful riffs and twisted lyrics that sound sweet at first listen and evolve to some kind of dark twisted storytelling. Piney’s inner Laura Palmer emerges with a tender bitter-sweetness, reminiscent of post punk basement bars and cherry martinis.
Throughout her work, there is an underlying theme addressing mental health, the shade and the light in the music and lyrics represent a lot of deep thoughts. If you look for the meaning it is there, but on another level you can just enjoy the songs like a story or a pop song. A lot of bad things happened to Piney during this period making the album, and the songs summarise that journey. She has always been a glass half full kind of person, so there is an optimism or silver lining to it, but the depression, the pain, the mental health angle is there. As Piney explains; “I think people love music that mirrors their inner sadness because there is comfort in knowing you are not alone, a melancholy mirror in music can be healing.”