Review Summary: This is the closest you'll ever get to a new Nirvana album. It may not be very original, but this album does a great job of delivering classic-sounding grunge two decades after the release of Nevermind.
Fans of Nirvana starved for new material would certainly enjoy the music of the band Pure Ed. Singer / guitarist / songwriter Jason Cope seems to have taken not only a page from the Kurt Cobain songbook, but an entire chapter. Most of the songs from “Shoes, Ships and Sealing Wax” sound like they could be covers of Nirvana songs that you never heard before. Lyrical themes for the majority of the tracks include boredom, alienation and social frustration. Mr. Cope’s voice even sounds eerily similar to Kurt Cobain in many spots throughout the album. Like Nirvana, the guitar playing is raw, loose and emotional, but the precise drumming and bass guitar keep the songs feeling tight.
There are several standout tracks on the disc. “Work Sucks” is the first song on the disc and is a great choice for the album opener. Although it’s not the best song on the album, it does a good job of summing up what the band sounds like. The song “Under The Sun” stands out as both the most radio friendly track on the disc and also because it’s the least Nirvana sounding song on the album. It does sound like Kurt Cobain trying to write a Weezer song, but not flat out Nirvana. The songs “Hate” and “Lies” are two of the best tracks on the album in terms of both songwriting and production. They both have very heavy guitar and bass tone, catchy hooks and intriguing lyrics.
The songs “Holiday” and “Night and Day” are both extremely emotional and really rock, but they are screamed more than they are sung. Although any Nirvana fans will be familiar with this style of singing, it may turn away some listeners. I wouldn’t say “Holiday” and “Night and Day” are bad songs, but they aren’t the best the band has to offer. On the other hand, there are two songs on the disc that just aren’t very good. “Punk Song” isn’t punk at all. In fact, it’s kind of plodding and dull. It doesn’t have any of the energy that so much of the rest of the album has. It’s just a filler track at best, so it’s surprising that it’s the third track on the album. The final track, “Requiem” is a very slow, mellow song with just guitar and vocals. It suffers significantly from the lack of backbone provided by the rhythm section on all of the other songs. Also, because the song is slow and mellow, the sloppy guitar playing and out of key vocals don’t come across as sounding passionate. They just sound bad.
Although the band’s style isn’t very original, they are very good at what they do. They have taken the best of what Nirvana and the grunge movement in general did two decades ago and packaged it together into one solid album with very few weak spots. Producer / bassist, Wade Summerlin, did a great job walking that fine line between sounding too raw and sounding too polished. Most of the songs sound like they were performed with passion and there are only a couple of clunkers on the disc.
Overall, weather or not someone would consider “Shoes, Ships and Sealing Wax” a good album depends entirely on weather or not that person likes Nirvana. I really don’t see anyone who doesn’t like Nirvana enjoying Pure Ed. However, for anyone who misses the grunge movement, this album is definitely solid and probably the most genuine grunge album to come out in over a decade.
Under The Sun
Jason Cope – Guitar/Vocals
Wade Summerlin – Bass
Sean McNalley - Drums