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    Pile has a well-earned reputation to uphold

    Pile’s latest album, “A Hairshirt of Purpose,” comes out Friday.
    Elizabeth Fuchsia
    Pile’s latest album, “A Hairshirt of Purpose,” comes out Friday.

    Hang around Boston’s rock outposts long enough and you’ll probably hear someone praise the four-piece Pile, whose crushing guitars and cut-to-the-quick lyrics, combined with their all-in live shows, have made them known as Boston bands’ favorite Boston band. In 2013 the now-defunct twisted power trio Krill, another band that rose up from Allston’s basements in the early part of the decade, released “Steve Hears Pile in Malden and Bursts Into Tears,” which opens with the line “Did you hear the latest Pile album?/ Not a stinker on it.”

    Pile’s latest album, “A Hairshirt of Purpose,” neatly slides into that description. While the massive riffs and principal songwriter and guitarist-vocalist Rick Maguire’s drawl remain the focal point, “Hairshirt,” which comes out Friday, expands the band’s guitar-bass-drums-vox structure in thrilling ways. The arresting “Milkshake” grows out of a dreamy tableau of guitars and strings, Maguire’s performance gathering intensity as the musical tumult grows into a steady churn. “Leaning on a Wheel,” which follows, opens as a shuffle, a gnarled riff giving way to thrashing guitars that are simultaneously intense and comforting, their melodic resolution leavening their intensity.

    Some of the songs on “Hairshirt” were written as early as mid-2015, but Maguire composed the bulk of the album last winter while living in Georgia. “There was a bunch of time to myself, which was really nice,” he recalls. “I was really just exhausted — we had been doing a lot of touring. I really wasn’t putting any pressure on myself so the writing just sort of happened, which is nice because it doesn’t always work like that.”


    The isolation informed Maguire’s lyrics, many of which focus on being alone. “I allowed myself to be a little bit more thoughtful with the lyrics. Some of the past records have just been kind of all over the place with that sort of stuff,” he says. “It also helped me feel confident when we got to the studio. Not as much was just left up to chance, which can be fun sometimes, but not necessarily when you’re trying to get a point across.”

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    “Hairshirt,” which was recorded at the local music incubator The Record Co., reflects that more focused approach; instrumental details like the strings on “Dogs,” played by friend of the band Elizabeth Fuchsia, add emotional weight. “Because there wasn’t as much of a time constraint, we were willing to throw ideas into the mix and not be afraid to have them — if [something] didn’t work, we could always get rid of it,” says Maguire. “Last time it was like, ‘We don’t have time to waste on just like trying out all wacky stuff.’ To say, ‘Maybe this will work,’ and then to have it actually work, is pretty exciting to hear and be a part of.

    “There’s a lot of percussion stuff that Kris [Kuss] does — banging on the railings and doubling up drums. It was cool to hear that because I think of records that I’ve really loved over the years that have those sorts of things. They’re really subtle, but give [the records] a depth that means a lot to me.”

    Pile, which also includes guitarist Matt Becker and bassist Matt Connery, has been a going concern for a decade now. (The name has been around for 10 years, although Maguire notes that it’s only been used to advertise a proper band for eight.) “It’s a pretty weird thing to try to process, but it makes sense, because we’re not oblivious to how old we are,” says Maguire.

    Maguire’s thoughtfulness about making music is infectious, not just in terms of making Pile’s albums thrilling and personal but in the way it influences other Boston musicians. “They’re the juggernaut of the Boston scene,” says Christine Varriale, drummer for the band Puppy Problems and editor in chief of the music site Allston Pudding. “Every band looks up to them, and they have one of the most fierce and visceral live sets. Anyone who doesn’t know them personally might be intimidated by their presence, but at the heart, they’re four extremely nice men who use their privilege to lift up others.”


    Maguire has spent much of the past year on the road; aside from his writing session in Georgia, he’s been collaborating with friends in New Orleans and visiting Austin and Nashville. But Pile will keep persisting, even after the band returns from tour. “I don’t know what the future holds as far as where we’ll all be,” he says, “but I definitely want to stay close to the rest of the band. I’d like to move wherever we can continue to play music.”


    With Gnarwhal, the Kominas, and Kal Mark. At The Sinclair, Cambridge, Sunday at 8 p.m. Tickets $12-$15,

    Maura Johnston can be reached at