Review Summary: Resignation day is a rough-hewn pop-punk gem, a record with real character, and the energy and tunes to back it up.
It's easy for a first listen to paint a grander picture of a record then its musical palette could realistically provide. Sadly, there's many an album that's been unveiled to me as a fine painting, every brushstroke vibrant with colour, only for me to give it a spin a couple of weeks later and be greeted by a five-year old's chalk drawing. However, in this great scheme of paint-strewn canvasses, Banner Pilot's sophomore effort Resignation Day
is something of a Magic Eye picture. Upon listening for the first few times, the general simplicity of the band's gruff four-chord melodic punk was pleasant, but nothing remarkable. But gradually, after a few half-attentive listens, it began to reveal some vague shapes; later on, I'd find myself humming melodies and singing odd lines to myself, wondering where I'd heard them before. Once I'd put two and two together and listened to the album again, the hidden image was gloriously revealed, and I was hooked.
Taking a swift turn out of the gallery of ill-advised art metaphors, it seems that Resignation Day
is a bit of a grower - I must admit it's been a while since an album has crept under my skin as insidiously as this. In hindsight, it's not hard to see why I've taken to it; the title seems almost celebratory of quitting one's job and leaving for pastures new, or taken another way, resigning oneself to rotting in a soulless hometown, two conflicting thoughts that have torn at my mind (and I'm sure the minds of many others) since leaving high school. Either way, what we're left with is a scrapbook of memories of life in that town, all wrapped up in buzzsaw guitars, nimble melodic basslines and clattering drums, and exuding a sort of mournful charm. Take for example, melodic highlight "Shell Game:"
"It's no use kid, I can't stop bleeding.
Take this old guitar; it's all I'm leaving.
It's seen the Jersey pines, bright neon signs and rode the Brighton Line.
I'll tell you what you're up against, it's the toughest fucking town
I've ever seen and you're going it alone."
The whole album is packed full of lines like these, dripping with bitterness and regret, whole verses channelling the spirit of genre-forefathers Jawbreaker
, both sonically and lyrically. Banner Pilot's sound also offers a hefty tip of the hat to Midwestern punk a la Dillinger Four
and The Lawrence Arms
, with vocalist Nick Johnson employing a hearty rasp that gives his sublime melodies, and the music as a whole, a harsh and gritty edge. His varied vocal patterns keep you hanging on his every word, and hearing lines like "I closed my eyes and I looked at you, counted up all of my mistakes, choked some more muddy coffee back, and did my best just to stay awake,"
(from "Milemarking") you feel like you're sat contemplating life in the run-down truck stop on the album cover, staring out into the rain as the paint flakes away from the wall beside you.
It's initially quite hard to pick favourites from Resignation Day
since, aside from the bass-driven "Absentee," there's little sonic variation in the band's approach, but the redeeming quality here is the strength of the songwriting; although it's sometimes hard to get a good grip on them (thanks to the recorded-in-a-shoebox production job) there's a plethora of catchy vocal hooks, tuneful guitar lines, and bass counter-melodies packed into every track, all of which are incredibly effective in their simplicity. Building on the promise shown on their debut release Pass the Poison
, Banner Pilot have made a strong follow-up; Resignation Day
is a record with real character, and all the energy and tunes to back it up.