Pepper In With The Old

Pepper is a three-piece from Hawaii that blends a somewhat gutless form of Police-affected reggae with the unfortunate trappings of contemporary pop-punk made for misunderstood young men. A well-reputed live act, the band were added to a leg of 2001’s Warped Tour and captured their summertime party vibe on their 2002 full-length, Kona Town, which gained significant radio exposure based on the single, "Give It Up.” Gaining a cult following in mainland U.S. after more stints on the 2002 and 2003 Warped Tours, Pepper eventually made it back into the studio to record their latest album, In With The Old. Mixing elements of reggae, ska, and dub effects on songs such as "Back Home” and "Love Affair” is certainly not an objectionable thing to attempt to pull off, but these songs are excellent examples of Pepper’s tendency to allow themselves to become stuck in a groove. Too often their forays into Jamaican-influenced musical experimentation end up sounding like Sting fronting a jam band or, as in the case of "Ashes,” like the Barenaked Ladies’ stabs at combining pop songs with knowing nods to reggae music. There is evidence of depth on songs such as the country-tinged "Border Town” but otherwise, In With The Old is an unmemorable collection of wannabe party songs that might appeal to fans of the lesser work of Sublime. (Volcom)