The Pink Reason singles that have surfaced in these early days of summer provide two completely different windows into the bedroom angst of Kevin DeBroux and company. First up is Winona, a 33 rpm 7-inch on Woodsist that collects the very first recordings under the Pink Reason moniker. Here DeBroux, collaborating with Shaun Failure, concocts a sound as far away from the fast, short and skuzzy bands he’d become accustomed to in Wisconsin over the years, taking cues from acid rock and folk bands instead of crusty punk.
The title track is a long, acoustic ballad about a trip to Winona, Minnesota that found them camping in the middle of the Mississippi River. If it weren’t so damn stark—and DeBroux’s voice so baritone—it could be confused as an outtake from Neil’s Harvest record. It is exactly the type of song that Kevin later perfected on tracks like “Goodbye” from last year’s Cleaning the Mirror, but “Winona” is worthy of repeated listens beyond its historical perspective. “Give Yourself Away” is a little more interesting, a gnarly take on the early Stooges sound, complete with a fried guitar lead and one-note piano ala “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” Keeping with the theme of jittery isolation, DeBroux caps off the EP with “Letting Go,” where he sings, “It’s all over now. Why is it so hard to sleep?” A fitting end to the very beginning.
Seeing as DeBroux has always been in control of his own career arc, it is no mistake that Winona (length: 6:48) coincides with the “Borrowed Time” single, his briefest and most hardcore-sounding song to date. You could call the A-side, clocking in at just over a minute, a waste of precious vinyl space, but I think it works at isolating the song’s message. This blistering, trebly anthem may not be the prototypical Pink Reason song, but the theme could be Kevin condensed into a minute of your time: waking up on floors, empty pockets, (failed) attempts at joining society while it flies right by you, realizing that “society” is shit. If only Danzig was this concise.
On the flip is “Scared Shitless,” a cut reminiscent of late-period V-3, back when paranoia was Jim Shepard’s only friend. You get the feeling Shep and DeBroux would’ve gotten along just fine. Musically it also reminds one of Pink Reason’s early live sound, back when it was Kevin, Shaun and a computer playing a sort of strobe-shocked My Bloody Valentine, feedback piercing eardrums and colliding with the double guitar attack. Two more fine singles to continue a perfect streak. Go to Fashionable Idiots to beg for a “Borrowed Time” repress. Fuck it Tapes should have Winona in stock.