Early press for Chicago garage rockers The Orwells’ third album, Terrible Human Beings, has either focused on the claim that the band has grown past the youthful shenanigans that typified their previous work, or that they have taken an obvious shine to the Pixies. The “more mature” Orwells angle is true enough, though a little overstated even if the band members themselves agree with it. Admittedly, the album does feature hints of this progression. “Buddy” for instance, the first song from the album to be released as a single, features the refrain “Movin’ on, did my time” before closing with a repeated “Goodbye Buddy.” Whoever Buddy is, he or she is in the past, while The Orwells are moving on to the future. Not too swiftly though, as the song’s narrator does also mention that he has a pint in his hand and a “pocket full of rubber.” So basically, the band are still drinking and screwing, they just aren’t teenagers anymore.
The Pixies inspiration on the other hand is pretty undeniable. Sticking with “Buddy,” the guitars and vocals are a direct nod to the iconic Boston band’s leader Black Francis. In fact, the singer/guitarist is such a huge influence on Terrible Human Beings that the album’s standout track is actually called “Black Francis.” Whereas “Buddy” borders on Pixies-pastiche (well done and enjoyable as it is), “Black Francis” is less a copy of the Pixies than The Orwells absorbing that group’s sounds and then spitting out something that’s all their snotty own. The song feels like a natural progression from the tunes featured on 2012’s Remember When and 2014’s Disgraceland, even if it’s not about high schoolers shooting guns and getting shit-faced. Maybe they’re growing up after all.