“When we came up with our name,” says Pagiins frontman Leif Hinshaw, “we wanted it to evoke a certain image in your head. Specifically, Nicholas Cage getting his face torn apart by bees.”
If that ravenous Wicker Man reference sounds both sinister and not the least bit serious, good. Because that pretty much nails how elusive Pagiins is musically and lyrically on their debut EPs, Good Things Take Time and Bad Things Don’t. Loosely linked through contrasting titles and cover art—one’s stark and full of squares, while the other’s bursting with color and concentric circles—they loudly introduce the ying/yang forces at the heart of the band’s fuzz-flecked hooks. And now that they’re being spread across the sides of one 12” like a bi-polar LP, it’s easy to get swept up in their sonic similarities while recognizing their slight differences.
So while it’s easy to understand how Hinshaw and the rest of the Arkansas-based group—co-founder/drummer Robert Bishop, bassist Chris Wood, guitarist Aaron Smith, and cleanup kick drum hitter Damon Tillotson—all take cues from how killer California’s rock scene is these days (see: Thee Oh Sees, Nobunny, Mikal Cronin, etc.), their respective crank-that preferences include everything from Captain Beefheart and CCR to Pavement and Beck.
Meanwhile, Hinshaw’s dense story lines can get lost amid all those interlocking harmonies and manic melodies. An example: “Potential Foes,” a fan favorite that starts with the half-serious howl “And I’ll punch you in the face!”, then launches into a relentless retelling of why the singer/guitarist quit a certain college’s drama program to pursue a musical path. (Hint: a too-good-to-be-true love interest and her stone-faced boyfriend were involved.) Then there’s “Open Up Your Mind,” an organ-grinding, gate-crashing anthem that just so happens to be about going against the grain that’s been preordained for all of us. Or as Hinshaw puts it, “You’ve been bound by common thought/ Just ignore everything your taught.”
Which might as well be Pagiins’ mission statement, really.