If you know anyone prone to spontaneous air guitar solos, whose eyes go all watery when you mention 90’s rock icons like Kurt Cobain, Pennywise’s new album Yesterdays should be their next birthday gift.
The “new album of old songs” from this Californian based icon of punk rock is energetic, raw and most importantly reminiscent of the days before the genre became concerned purely with girls and pizza toppings. Rejoined by original lead singer, Jim Lindberg, the album is comprised of unreleased material composed during the late eighties and nineties, re-learnt by the band off old cassette recordings. The album has been described by the band as homage to deceased bassist, Jason Thirsk –who wrote most of the lyrics featured on the album. Astonishingly recorded in under a week, Pennywise have undoubtedly returned with a storm of raw bravado that can be appreciated by fans of the Offspring, Rise Against and Smashing Pumpkins.
More potent than the stench of re-discovered, worn gym socks which have taken refuge in some dark corner of your cupboard; this energy drink of sound is unashamedly repetitive. Yet, with a discography longer than Kurt Cobain’s list of medications, the albums stark lack of any original sound is excusable.
Each track off the album seems to follow a standard recipe, in order to produce what could easily be used as the soundtrack to a Die Hard movie. Guitarist Fletcher Dragge opens each song with an electric guitar riff, carried throughout the verses of that song. This essential ingredient to any punk rock song to emerge from a bands garage during the nineties injects tracks like What You Deserve and Am, Oi with a bolt of energy which would make perfect background music during a high-speed car chase. The chorus – usually a repeatedly chanted line by Lindberg – is accompanied by a guitar chord and tempo change in order to spice things up. During the chorus of She’s a Winner – the albums only song concerned with an ex-girlfriend – Lindberg reminds listeners that “she’s a winner”, with enough vigour and enthusiasm to make the phrase the catch-cry of an angry mob. Mid-song, Dragge will contribute a somewhat anticipated, yet undeniably killer solo – such as in Violence Never Ending – dripping with enough raw dynamism to make any dedicated air-guitarist wet themselves out of excitement.
Despite the predictability of each song, you’ve got to give these guys kudos for their sustained enthusiasm after 26 years of recording. While the album offers nothing particularly fresh, it will not disappoint anyone who considers themselves a fan of vintage punk rock.