Friday, February 23, 2024

Review: Pennywise – Yesterdays

Hermosa Beach, California, punk rock band Pennywise formed in 1988. Their name is derived from the Stephen King monster. Between their 1991 self-titled début and 2005’s ‘The Fuse’, Pennywise released an album every two years on Epitaph Records, a label owned by the Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz.

Their current line-up consists of Fletcher Dragge (guitars), Randy Bradbury (bass) and Byron McMackin (drums) with Jim Lindberg (vocals) – who replaced the “Ignite” singer Zoli Téglás. Lindberg returns to the band for their eleventh album entitled ‘Yesterdays‘ released this month. It’s the first time that Lindberg has sung for the band since 2008’s ‘Reason to Believe’.pennywise

Although ‘Yesterdays‘ is a new studio album, the title drops a big hint – it’s a collection of old (previously unreleased) songs. In essence, it’s a collection of numbers that were written by the original bassist Jason Thirsk. Thirsk died from self-inflicted gunshot wounds in 1996.

So we start with ‘What You Deserve’ and an intro tape from a chilling emergency call. But the rhythms are jaunty enough. With extremely fast drums and streamers of twinkling guitars. And a powerful chorus that’s both sincere and contagious.

‘Restless Time’ begins with painful aching feedback and a restless beat. The vocals are mellow, richly endowed and sturdy. Lindberg’s voice is slightly reminiscent of Phil Lynott – and this track reminds us how powerful and impudent ‘Thin Lizzy’ once were.

‘She’s a Winner‘ is a wonderfully swinging waltz. The bass-work is incredibly agile – dribbling in and out of the heavy chops – and breathing life into the oil-sump blackness. This feels decadent and richly perverse. It would not seem out of place on a ‘Stranglers‘ LP (circa 1977.) The guitar solo staggers in fits and spurts. Then the riff comes in – much more confidently – in bright colours, and sprightly – with more of that Lynott vocal sound. This is huge fun.

Two songs that may be familiar to the followers of Pennywise are ‘Slow Down’ (the bonus track from 1993’s ‘Unknown Road’) and ‘No Way Out’ from the band’s first EP.

‘Slow Down’ fists the guitar notes out – hammering them into the anvil of rhythm. This is a thick piece of metal with a voice that waves along the crest of the piece – before cutting and drifting into the blazing embers of sound – that crackle along later.

‘No Way Out’ begins with a celebratory riff. This screams out – like a squeaky rubber – and the guitars scream away in turmoil – especially that super high pitched lead. This track is guaranteed to cause a wide smile to spread across your face.

This is a rather elegant collection of old school punk jingles – for a new generation of droogs. Go enjoy it!

The new album from Pennywise titled ‘Yesterdays’ is out now via Epitaph Records.


Neil Mach
Neil Mach
RAMzine Senior Writer - With a career spanning 30 years author / journalist Neil Mach is an expert on the music business and is a reliable guide. He especially loves heavy metal, prog & blues.

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