Album Review: Pennywise – Yesterdays (2014 LP)

Pennywise will never be accused of reinventing the wheel; and when you’ve been producing durable punk rock albums for 27 years like they have, you don’t generally backslide. You stick to the formula – and that’s exactly what they’ve done with their latest offering Yesterdays.

This album smacks of songs that were born of an era when Punk Rock had been pushed underground by the dissolution of its forefathers. The Ramones were gone and the Sex Pistols were dead. Punks didn’t simply cease to be though. They merely hid themselves away to try and survive the onslaught of Post-Punk and Glam Rock; and survive they did. When the time came to emerge from the darkness, it was bands like Pennywise, The Descendants and All who led the resurgence with a guitar pick in one hand and the other one giving the finger to someone in authority.

Probably the most accurate way to characterise Yesterdays in particular, is relentless. Hard, fast, blistering punk rock that makes you feel like punching things. It comes in swinging and doesn’t let up until the last chord. The highlights are tracks such as “Noise Pollution” (in which the band actually experiments with major chord progressions and just for a moment gives the impression they might actually be happy about something) and “Thanksgiving”. The latter characterised by lyrics such as, “Think about what you have, not what you can get.” The album is a ripping collection of punk rock standards that celebrate everything their fans have come to love about them over the years. In fact, on first listen you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a little reminiscent of the raw early 90s Pennywise sound.

Of course, when Pennywise releases another album full of angst-fuelled, pacey guitar songs – no-one’s really surprised. Nor are they disappointed. But in the case of Yesterdays, there’s a little more to it. If this album sounds a lot like a trip down memory lane, that’s probably because it is. Yesterdays is principally an album of unreleased material gathered together from the whole span of the band’s career, which explains the resurgence of the dirty tone and distinctly nostalgic lyrics. The over-produced gloss of 2012’s All Or Nothing is gone, replaced by the gritty character of yesteryear.

The reason for the nostalgia then? Jim Lindberg has returned after three years away. Having rebuilt once burnt bridges, the band felt as is the best way to celebrate their renewed friendship was a project that took them back to where it all began. So they dug up a whole stack of songs that they wrote when they were angry teenagers forming a band that would become one of the veterans of the punk rock scene. Further fuelling the wistfulness, they also decided to use this album as a way to pay homage to late bassist Jason Thirsk.

Considering all of that, you shouldn’t have any trouble figuring out why they called it Yesterdays.

Review Score: 8.0 out of 10

Yesterdays is available now.


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