At the beginning of the 1990s, there was a mood for rapid change within the Rock music industry. Nirvana was just getting started, and many bands in their wake who weren’t traditionally noticed got some well-deserved attention for their music. In some ways, the 1990s was a golden era for bands quickly getting recognised for their talents internationally. Many examples can be pointed towards this trend, but Pennywise is one of them. Coming from a Punk Rock background, this is their debut album, which led to some attention from those who love Skate Punk, and is often seen as their best overall album. Is this worth your time and listening efforts? Let’s find out.
Wouldn’t It Be Nice begins with aggressive chords, before launching into a lo-fi and razor sharp tune that sounds really fantastic. This is not The Beach Boys tune of the same name, instead, it is a huge Punk assault on the senses. A really awesome and magical listening experience, this sounds really cool and awesome. A very fast and enjoyable tune that is a good mixture of Hardcore Punk and Skate Punk sounding music, this is a great start to the album. A must hear.
Rules is another short, sharp and blistering listen. This is very much like the Skate Punk Dead Kennedys, the music present on this album is really fantastic. No frills or polish here, just a musical assault on the senses. Ridiculously good for the music that this is, and a must hear for Hardcore Punk fans. Great stuff.
The Secret is not the book/film by Rhonda Byrne. It is a good three-and-a-half-minute Skate Punk tune that is hard hitting and powerful. This is strange lyrically, “We’re only gonna die out, in time” is repeated here. A piece of music that sounds hard, hitting and fantastic, this is super effective Punk Rock that you’d never expect to hear otherwise. A piece of music that is for those who dig extreme sports of any kind, there is a very decent shred style guitar solo on this tune. In the second half is a brief bass guitar break, followed by further vicious assaults musically. Great speedy Punk music, another excellent song from this album. Towards the end, the guitar riffs are played nicely, whilst the main refrain is repeated. A good semi-answer to The Who’s My Generation, and an excellent listening experience. Good job.
Living For Today is another three minute long piece. It begins with some decent whammy bar work which sounds interesting, before launching into another Hardcore Punk styled tune. This is a great listen if you dig fast snare based drumming, chugging guitars and John Lydon inspired vocals. This packs more punch than an energy drink, and it sounds really cool. An awesome and pounding tune with wailing guitar leads, this is an incredibly cool and great tune for those who have very limited attention spans. All the same, this song sounds brilliant, as does the rest of the band. A cool and interesting tune that has some interesting sounds here, this is a genuinely great listen for Punk fans. Somewhat shouty towards the end, but nowhere near as ordinary as Black Flag territory, this is good quality music for what it is.
Come Out Fighting begins with warped whammy guitars and feedback, before launching into a very mosh pit sort of song. This again is really direct, punchy and enjoyable music. The dawn of Skate Punk was here, and Blink-182 no doubt was influenced by these kinds of bands. A really powerful and moving tune, this sounds incredibly decent musically and is a good example of USA music that is done very well. Nirvana and the Grunge bands had some serious competition with Pennywise and similar bands in the early 1990s. A great two minute long song.
Homeless begins straight into a musical assault on the senses. This is very enjoyable and ridiculously awesome. To be fair, this is a very Hardcore Punk tune that has some killer and exciting melodies on it. A great two minute long song, this album is for those who have ADHD, or those who snort lines of speed. Still, if you don’t fit that category, these songs are great on their own. Fantastic music. The ending is awesome.
Open Door begins with some machine gun style drum rolls, before launching straight into an awesome tune that sounds really fantastic and terrific. A short, sharp and brutal attack on the senses, if this music doesn’t make you feel turbocharged, nothing will. A really good song that is less than two minutes long, this sounds fantastic. A great listen.
Pennywise by Pennywise is on Pennywise. Therefore, this is their signature tune. It begins with fantastic drum rolls and guitar riffs that are synchronized, and this tune is a call-to-arms for fans of the band. Headbanging sort of music, these tunes are awesome and uplifting to hear. A V8 sort of song, as opposed to your average tunes today on the radio, the lightning speed assault here kicks the proverbial. A wonderful listen.
Who’s To Blame begins with some ripping guitar riffs, launching into another musical assault and a decent tune, once again. These songs are very much the opposite of lengthy Progressive Rock, they are minimal to the nth degree. Minimalism isn’t a bad thing, however. Pennywise sound really great on this record, and this is awesome music. Sure, it may be a college dorm sort of music, but it sounds fantastic.
Fun and Games begins with some powerful electric guitar sounds, before launching into an odd beat and Poppy tune for Pennywise. The music present is still decent though, and these guys prove that recording at different tempos and with different structures is possible for Hardcore Punk/Skate Punk music. An enjoyable listen, and the music is without a doubt, fantastic here. An uplifting, vicious and powerful tune. The second half has a sort of call-and-response between the singing and instrumentation, which is quite different. Towards the end, the intro riff returns, just before this song ends. Great, once again.
Kodiak begins with some heavier and more powerful guitar riffs and drums, before launching into another supersonic tune in terms of speed and substance. The music on this album is really excellent, and it just sounds dynamic, focused and fantastic. The brutal nature of the music isn’t for everyone to listen to, admittedly, but with the correct ear, sounds inspiring. Towards the end are some multitracked and nicely layered guitars to finish with before this tune concludes. Interesting.
Side One begins with a stereotypical Classic Rock beat and some more whammy bar guitar work. Soon enough, this launches into a more consistent and better song than you’d expect. It sounds not too dissimilar from The Offspring and is a decent piece of music. It alternates to a faster section throughout, with nicely shouted and sung vocals. Hard to believe that this sort of music would be totally avoided today, such is the nature of Pop music in the postmodern era. Nonetheless, an enjoyable and fun tune for all Punk fans to hear. Brilliant, the chanting throughout is infectious. Awesome tune.
No Reason Why begins with a much slower and mellow sounding guitar intro section, before this launches into a very catchy Punk tune. Soon enough, rumbling bass enters and this goes straight into another quick tune with consistency and an awesome feel musically to it. Better than anything on Black Flag’s Damaged album, this is a really fantastic, creative and fun tune that is worth merit listening to. Fun listening, this is nicely layered and structured throughout. Pennywise is more than capable of creating great Hardcore Punk songs that last the test of time. Fantastic.
Bro Hymn is a three minute song that begins with bass guitar and subtle drumming, this is far more mainstream sounding than the other tunes on this album, largely due to its slowed down pace and Pop style musicality. No doubt a great tune as well, this is one for those who have never heard Pennywise before, and want a sample of their music. Chanted vocals are here which are multitracked, sounding like a soccer stadium chant. A very good listen to boot, this is one to put on your playlist if bored. Great song, it is about making a decent impression on others. Although rather Poppy, it ends with chaotic shouting and cheering from all those who did the backing vocals. Different.
Psycho 89 is the last song on this album and is a return to Hardcore Skate Punk. This is fast, bruising and nonsensical. A short piece under two minutes in length, this does sound very good and interesting for what it is. A really enjoyable and direct tune, the sounds on this album are really decent, and this ending song is no different. Great finish to a fast and furious album. Nice job overall by Pennywise.
If you are looking for a perfect halfway house between Hardcore Punk and Skate Punk, look no further. This is an amazing album that, despite its age, still holds up very nicely. Sure, the speed and noise of the album aren’t going to be to everyone’s tastes. Having said that, the songs are all winners. Worth a listen at a house party or a similar event, Pennywise was just getting started here. A very decent album.