Published Jul 11, 2014Few bands are as synonymous with mega-indie punk label Epitaph as Pennywise. During their '90s heyday, the Hermosa Beach, CA band's driving skate-punk sound helped define the label's identity, codifying '90s punk in the process. Internal squabbles led to lead singer Jim Lindberg's departure and 2012's not terrible All or Nothing with new singer Zoli Téglás.
Now Lindberg is back in the fold and the band are looking to press the reset button with eleventh album Yesterdays. Re-recording tracks like "No Way Out" and a number of unreleased tracks written by deceased bass-player Jason Thirsk, the band try to rekindle the sound and energy of their earliest releases. On the surface, everything sounds right ¬¬— the production is dry and the drums sound miniscule as the band rip through eleven songs in under 30 minutes, recreating the searing energy of '89 with aplomb.
But Pennywise grew into themselves over time; while their sound was cemented on their self-titled debut in 1991, it wasn't until 1995's About Time that things really started to click songwriting-wise, and some of their greatest triumphs came in the 2000s. So, the band are double-dipping into one of their more creatively unfruitful eras.
Longtime fans will no doubt enjoy the trip down memory lane, but Yesterdays would have worked better as a compilation of era-appropriate demos, B-sides and rarities. Presented as a new studio album, it only manages to recapture the band's spirit, rather than its soul. (Epitaph)