All-Fiction is the latest release from indie rock heroes Pile. It’s their ninth and easily most
difficult to define album. The Rick Maguire-led outfit had spent the previous fifteen years
carefully crafting everything an indie rock could/should be, and their last two releases of new
music (A Hairshirt of Purpose and Green and Grey) in particular acting as the band’s high-water
mark....both records finding the band able to pull off seemingly anything they want with ease,
be it ear splittingly aggressive or heartbreakingly tender. Much like All Fiction, Pile’s last two
‘actual’ releases were quite experimental in their own right, with In The Corners of a Sphere
Filled Room being a completely improvised instrumental record, while Songs Known Together,
Alone was a collection of old songs re-recorded by a solo Maguire during the lonely days of
Covid isolation.

All Fiction is different in so many ways, first off is the lineup. This new record finds Pile working
as a trio for the first’s just Maguire, the mighty drumming of Kris Kuss, and the bass/
keyboards of Alex fact it’s the first time since 2009’s Jerk Routine that Pile hasn’t
been a four piece. Much like Kid A was Radiohead’s reinvention with its keyboards, loops, and
eerie soundscapes, All Fiction serves much the same purpose for Pile. The guitars have given
way to a Rhodes and programmed loops, the vocals are compressed and distorted, and the
overall mood is dark and claustrophobic. Yes, I just compared Pile to Radiohead: get over it!
‘It Comes Closer’ is a perfect example of this. Piano chords, some cello and violin and Maguire
singing amidst a degraded production soundscape. ‘Link Arms’ plays much the same with its
piano giving way to swells of stringed instruments.

The album’s high points, not surprisingly, come when they return to more typical song
structures, and because of this they become that much more cathartic. ‘Loops’ and ‘Poisons’
both crush in different ways, but they share the same aforementioned claustrophobic
production values and though it’s hard to make out just what exactly Maguire is singing about,
for sure it can’t be good.

The majority of this record though is based primarily through moody synths and punctuated
with bursts of Kris Kuss’ drum kit. In fact, one could make the argument that, musically, this is
Kuss’ record...’Forgetting’, ‘Lowered Rainbow’, and ’Nude with a Suitcase’ all share this same
musical DNA and his accents are creative and affecting.

As said earlier, Pile have spent the last fifteen years detailing everything a DIY indie rock band
can be, and to great critical acclaim and cult like status amongst fans. All Fiction finds the
band redefining their sound and possibly charting a new course (time will tell). Though I was
initially struggling to find a way into this record, time has proven very helpful in navigating its
choppy waters...hey, it’s the band’s fault; Green and Grey and A Hairshirt of Purpose have
been such a big part of my everyday existence that I just wasn’t prepared for something
different. Yeah, this isn’t your older brother’s Pile, but it’s damn good regardless!

-Johnny Hooper