Pennywise - Land of the Free (Cover Artwork)


Land of the Free (2001)


While commenting on a Deviates album, I was inspired by the antics of an anonymous poster to write a review of this album. This is what I've thought since the album came out, and what I'll probably think till the day I expire. I know I'll get slagged to no end, but this is what had to be done.

Pennywise is the band that got me into punk rock. About Time was the first punk CD I ever bought, and I cherish it to no end. Some of the finest music ever made is on that album. They continued on strong through 2 albums and one death (if you're reading this, you should already know this stuff), but in 2001 they hit a wall.

Want to know what happens when a band gets too political for their own good? They become Pennywise circa 2001. Instead of writing deeply personal lyrics that are relatable, Jim spews on about the WTO, American policy, and religion. How the hell can a non-politicaly charged kid have anything to do with these? From "Perfect People" (the song that basically has driven my life) to "Land of the Free" the band managed to lose most of what made them so great. Leave the bullshit politics to Anti-Flag (don't get me started on them).

Next, the production and music itself. Does it sound like the band was trying to re-create the first Minor Threat 7" to anyone else? The entire thing sounds muddy, which is great to for when that's the best you can get, but come on, even the first record sounded better and clearer than this. Flat drums, barely audible bass, and bad tone on the guitar makes it seem like you're hearing the band through a wall. Jim's voice sounds like its coming though a mic from 1963. Some may love this "retro" sounding shit, but as you can see, I don't. It seems as if Fletcher hit a wall with the riffs too. they all seem recycled from past releases (I dare you to tell me that "Twist of Fate" and "It's Up To You" don't sound like second rate Straight Ahead outtakes). The soloing is getting better, but what good are improving solos in mediocre songs? "Fuck Authority" manages to rip off TSOL and Wasted Youth within a span of 3 mintues and 16 seconds.

The only tolerable songs are "Time Marches On" and "The World." Each time I try to listen to this in its entirity I end up getting halfway through then turn it off.

Having said all that I have to, I haven't lost all faith in Pennywise, (even as recently as January they still own any stage they take, and nothing can take away from the genious of the first 12 years of their career). My expectations for future releases are just much lower.