While most other punk acts still tirelessly extolling the loud ‘n' fast lifestyle of the skate-punk game well into their late 30s start to come across a bit _over-the-hill _by the time they reach their eighth album, *Pennywise *- for some reason still unbeknown to the rest of us - always seem to bounce back as fresh and relevant as ever. It's an enviable trait with few things more reassuring in punk rock than the quality of a new Pennywise album but, curiously, herein lies their problem also.
Ask any lifelong PW fan which album they consider to be their finest work, their zenith, and nine times out of ten they'll name the first album they got into, the one they fully immersed themselves in. For immersion causes attachment, and no matter how consistent the quality of a band's output, if they're forever treading the same path the excitement will soon begin to dissipate. Such is the problem with 'The Fuse', no matter how refreshing it might sound to those on a diet of Victory Records-related rock.
Course, it's no bad album by any means. 'Knock Down' is a rambunctious start to proceedings, as potent and sun-sparklingly Californian as any of Ernest Gallo's finest; 'Take a Look Around' and the fast-paced 'Fox TV' exemplify their politicised agenda well, while 'Best I Can' takes things closer to The Kids' hearts with a commentary on the dire social situation facing the youth of America. In short, it's typical Pennywise fodder; predictable as it is dependable.
They're all fantastically brilliant tunes for sure, they all have the ability to entwine themselves into a teenage summer and they're all hugely sing-along-able [note to self: never, ever use that word again]. But in a Channel 5-style round-up of our best-loved PW anthems, they'd all be hard-pushed to make the Top Ten. Why? Because they will forever be musically fettered against their earlier genre-defining best; they're simply not capable of the same emotional attachment as 'Straight Ahead', 'Perfect People' or 'Old' and, as such, stir little more in a hardened fan than a nonchalant toe-tapping, rather than impassioned finger-pointing.
Despite this Pennywise are still an institution to be treasured, so while it's not as immediate as Straight Ahead or About Time, The Fuse is still a well-trimmed collection of songs that deserve their place in the punk rock spectrum.
6Mat Hocking's Score