Review Summary: Esteem Driven Engine is a great debut filled with excellent guitar hooks and high energy melodic vocals, accompanied by a great rhythm section and well thought out lyrics.
Originally formed as a punk rock supergroup, the creation of Pulley stemmed from Scott Radinsky's departure from Ten Foot Pole. The band fired Radinsky in order to get a vocalist who could sing full time for the band, since Radinsky had a second career as a baseball pitcher. Radinsky formed a new band with Mike Harder on guitar, Jim Cherry (original bassist of Strung Out) on guitar, Jordan Burns (Strung Out drummer) on drums and Matt Riddle (former Face to Face bassist and current No Use for a Name Bassist) on bass.
Luckily, the band does not sound like Ten Foot Pole. Rather than being a heavy pop punk band like Ten Foot Pole was on Rev, Pulley takes it sounds from not only the vocals of Radinsky, but the musicianship of the members who were already veterans of the 1990's So Cal punk scene. The music is characterized by its high energy sound and uplifting, yet still original, sounding verses and choruses.
Radinsky's vocals are slicker than his days from Ten Foot Pole, and are melodic as ever. The lyrics are in the same style that Radinsky has been singing for years. He makes references and comparisons to outer external objects to convey an existential sound to his lyrics. This makes them original yet compelling. Jim Cherry's influence brings great, catchy guitar hooks that will remind you of mid 1990's Strung Out. Matt Riddle's bass playing has that emo-tinged minor key feeling that was present on the first 2 Face to Face albums. Jordan Burns offers very well done drumming (very reminiscent of Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues sound), and the listener will realize how underrated of a drummer he really is.
The album opens with "Cashed In", which has a great riff and a catchy verse
"Start from the bottom, start from the bottom again..."
"Crawl" and "Eyes Wide Open" follow the excellent opener, and contain the band's definitive sound. "Four Walls" is a emotionally catchy low tempo song that actually works well with the band.
"One Shot" is one of the best songs off the album, not only for its catchy sound, but the lyrics that criticize the media's attention to the So Cal scene are both amazing and relatable.
"Well I'm not a one hit wonder looking to get rich.
I'm not trying to sell out my songs.
I was here before they exploited this scene
and I'll be here when they're dead and ***ing gone"
"Lifer" offers a basic, yet a great sounding chorus. "Silver Tongue Devil" is one of the more amusing tracks, because the lyrics are just so unorthodox that they capture your attention just as well as the music does. "No Defense" is one of the best songs off the album, although the singer of the track doesn't sound like Radinsky. The album closes with the awesome ending, "All We Have."
Esteem Driven Engine was a great debut from one of the more underrated and unknown So Cal punk bands of the 1990's. Despite being a super group, the band does not suffer from that curse that plagues many hard rock and metal super groups.