Not only one of the best punk bands out there, but a personal favorite of mine, Pennywise has released their latest album 'The Fuse' on Epitaph Records. I saw an add in a magazine for 'The Fuse' about 2 months before it came out and since then, I have been literally counting down the days until its release. The day it was released (August 9th, 2005) I went on my lunch break and picked up a copy. I had heard a teaser track on the Epitaph Records website ("Knocked Down") and thought it lacked in some aspects, but still was a pretty good tune and figured maybe it would fit in well with the rest of the album. I wasn't really sure what to expectů
Stylistically 'The Fuse' sounds like a combination of 'About Time' and 'From the Ashes'. It has a lot of the aggression from 'About Time' and some of the watered down political lyrics of 'From the Ashes' (I say watered down because compared to 'Land of the Free?', 'From the Ashes' lyrical demeanor is weaker.) I believe there is quite a lot of politics on this album too, but not as much as 'Land of the Free?'.
The album is kicked off by "Knocked Down" which has the general molding of what a typical Pennywise song is. Driven by outspoken vocals and nice rhythm sections, "Knocked Down" is one of the better songs on the album. "Yell Out" is a song much like the song prior, but contains better drumming from one of my favorite drummers-Byron McMackin. Reminding me of one of my favorite Pennywise songs "My Own Country" is "Competition Song". The beginning reminds me a lot of it, and is a fairly decent track. There's not too much here that makes it stand out, but unfortunately, that's pretty much my feeling towards the majority of the songs on this album.
Now we're getting into the heart and soul of 'The Fuse". "Closer", "6th Avenue Nightmare", and "The Kids" makes this album successful. These three songs are the back bone of the album and prevent it from being a generic punk rock album. "Closer" is probably my favorite track on the album. It's an extraordinarily strong tune that makes you hold your head high and say "I love these mother ***ers!" What's great about "The Kids" is that it sounds a little more like a rock song than a punk song. It has the warm and familiar Pennywise choruses that all long time fans have grown accustomed to and love. "Stand Up" has me envisioning Trent Reznor taking over the vocal duties from Jim Lindberg in the verse sections of the song.
Another great song is "Premeditated Murder". Lyrically and musically this is the band at their best. This is one of the songs that the lyrics have been bathed in politics. Simply entitled "Lies", the album's final offering is another fantastic and soon to be classic Pennywise tune. It's between this and "Closer" for my favorite songs on the album.
While 'The Fuse' has a handful of fantastic songs, I have to say that overall, the album doesn't really move me. I almost find some of these songs boring. It pains me to say this because I do love their music so much, but I'm being honest. This cd will be in the hands of the long time fans, but probably not in the hands of those somewhat new to the band. If you're looking for a Pennywise album that blows your mind, try "Full Circle" or "About Time".
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