Review Summary: Land of the Free? is a great album, and while it may get repetetive after a while, its still Pennywise at a strong point in their career, both musically and lyrically.
Pennywise rocked the 90's with 5 near perfect albums. 1999's Straight Ahead saw the band move away from their inital sound, but by still sounding like the band we grew up loving for their catchy music, positive lyrics and outspoken rants against conformity and social evils. Pennywise entered the new millenium with a great album, Land of the Free?
Here it seems the band was continuing their journey in moving away from their classic record sounds while still sounding like Pennywise. Although Pennywise delivered political commentary in past records, this was their first album that seemed to be political themed. The cover shows SWAT officers holding the line agaisnt protesters, probably from the Battle of Seattle. The back of the CD case has a bunch of grave stones, and the CD artwork is a collage of newspaper articles about school shootings and other acts of violence.
The album opens up with the furious and catchy punk anthem "Times Marches On." From the gecko, it seems the CD will be fast paced like their past albums but with a more modern sound. However, as the album continues, the songs begin to vary at speed, making this album quite versatile for Pennywise.
Like I said earlier, Land of the Free? is politically themed. Being released in June 2001, this was before 9/11 the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, so one would wonder just what is Pennywise so pissed off about? Well to you punks out there who listen to bands that did nothing but bash Bush and Republicans, the world sucked even before all of them. Songs like "The World" broadcasts the violence in the world while wondering if we'll ever find our way. "Land of the Free?" criticisizes the USA of being hypocrites who thrive on creating national unity. "*** Authority" is well...about rising up against the corrupt law enforcement and government. "WTO" is a rant against the World Trade Organization.
Pennywise being anti-government may turn off some listeners who think they're just being a trendy anti establishment punk band, but Pennywise has really always politically aware. This album has some rants on society too, something no Pennywise fan is a stranger to. "My God" is an attack on organized religon, "Anyone Listening" brings up the tragedies of the past few years such as school shootings and homelessness. "Enemy" is a cry for people to stop fighting amongst themselves.
The playing style on this album ranges from their typical fast paced punk to more slowed down punk tracks. "Divine Intervention" and "Who's on Your Side" are prime examples of Pennywise slowing down. Songs like "Its Up to You" and "Set Me Free" are pure adrenaline filled rock songs that will make you move, no matter what. Pennywise has been known for their fast playing. Byron is an amazing drummer, and while Fletcher and Randy may not be the most jaw dropping players in the world, they make mind blowing riffs, never minding the difficulty or techicality of it.
Land of the Free? was a great Pennywise album. It is a perfect reflection on American life before 9/11, the punk rock Bush hating and before the stressfulness of life became even worse. I wouldn't say thsi is there best album, but it is great, and is excellent for people just getting into Pennywise.