Pennywise : Land Of The Free

Veteran skate crew's issue-heavy rock

A [I]No Logo[/I] for American punk rock? Well, it’s a nice idea… Over the last ten years, the legacy of hardcore has soured into a frustratingly precious scene of snobbish fashion victims, parading the retarded notion that it’s more important to own the right pair of Vans trainers than to try to make the world a better place. Against that depressing backdrop, the promise that ‘Land Of The Free’, the group’s seventh album, is “a soundtrack for political activists all over the world” – and not just another set of pogo-friendly punk muzak for apolitical skate kids – should ring somewhat hollow.

It’s true, the woolly political sloganeering of ‘WTO’ ([I]”The future’s bright/People unite/Better believe/You’re in for a fight”[/I]) isn’t going to inspire a revolution in the street any more than Pennywise’s lunatic punk-rock charge is going to spark off a revolution in your head. But the fact remains, on the most visceral level, this album is often little short of amazing.

Opening with the whine of distant sirens and the thud of helicopter blades, before thundering into the sort of adrenaline-crazed punk rock that hits like a baton blow, the monumental ‘Time Marches On’ is clearly [a]Pennywise[/a]’s best song since career highpoint ‘Bro Hymn’. Elsewhere, ‘Fuck Authority’ ([I]”Frustration/Domination/Feel the rage of a new generation”[/I]) – intentionally? – subverts a Pepsi advertising slogan into a furious battle cry, while the frighteningly earnest ‘Whose Side Are You On’ crushes Blink-182 underfoot and still beats out a hell of a tune.

Were this a little more eloquent, it could be a truly inspirational album, a much-needed call to arms for punk’s jaded generation. Still, should you need a soundtrack for bricking your local McDonald’s, look no further.

Louis Pattison