The Penske File - Salvation (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Penske File

Salvation (2018)


When you're in your 30's you start thinking of stuff that makes you wonder about those mid-life crises people often speak of. There's a lot of fear, anxiety and to a point, regret, that creeps in regarding how you've lived so far and the road ahead. Kids, marriage, mortgage, your job, health... the whole nine. They all start playing on your mind. But one thing you can always count on is that good art will be there for you. The Penske File just so happens to be one of those shoulders to lean on and with Salvation, they remind us that no matter what, we can find comfort in both the present and the past. And more so, when we look to the future, always remember ... we'll be forever young at heart.

I've pretty much reviewed all their stuff at Punknews and I've really been impressed by the band's growth. In sharing their music to a LOT of friends, I've heard a lot of comparisons -- Spanish Love Songs is the latest, but prior, it's been some PUP, The Gaslight Anthem, Typesetter and heck, even The Wonder Years. The one stands head and shoulders above the rest though is the Menzingers, and honestly Salvation feels like I'm listening to the old and new era... especially throwing nods to last year's After The Party.

This Ontario gem throws the entire kitchen sink at you here with big hooks, swelling choruses and a bunch of shoutalong rock and roll anthems. Seriously, almost every song has that rollicking gang-vocal feel to it, kicking off with "Kamikaze Kids". Trust me when I say it sets the tone so damn well. Even when they go more aggressive on songs like "Lakeshore" and "Fairgrounds" (which runs on and on about the fire of youth), the melodies have you screaming at the top of your lungs and yes, they feel so poppy. Loud and catchy, in a nutshell... but filled with a restlessness that you connect with deeply.

In fact, The Penske File have never sounded as comprehensive or as versatile, and the vocal strength of the band roars loudly on "Spin My History" which feels like a tribute to Philly's Restorations, as well as the harmonica-driven warmth of "American Basements". Even on these soothing, poetic slow burns, it's pretty intense. As the album winds down, there's a lot of Menzingers creeping in again with "Come What May" feeling like an ode to "Midwestern States" -- acting as prologue before the poppier "Blessed Unrest". As a closer, it wraps the narrative smartly and leaves you with a Midwest-emo feeling that bands like Signals Midwest and Annabel pride themselves on. It's vulnerable yet leaves you on an optimistic note regarding tomorrow.

Truth be told, I expected Salvation to be good, but not this good. It's one of the best punk/indie/alternative albums I've heard in ages and definitely creates an aura of love, begging you to embrace and cherish these moments with the ones you love. After all, that's how we truly can find salvation, right?