Pennywise - Straight Ahead (retro review) (Cover Artwork)


Straight Ahead (retro review) (1999)

epitaph records

Pennywise have risen to the rank of mainstream punk-rock royalty, more mainstream than Rancid and NOFX, but angry and heavy enough to draw in stragglers from the metal community. The band’s brand of fast and distorted, melodic hardcore tinged punk anthems were the perfect soundtrack to 90’s teenage punk rock angst. While Straight Ahead lack’s the future crowd favorite, and at times mildly annoying “Fuck Authority”, the record delivered an excellent collection of concise and catchy 90’s skate punk.

In my experience it has been rare for a Pennywise fan to identify Straight Ahead as a discography stand out, but I would argue that it is one of, if not the best, Pennywise record. While lacking many of the bands most noteworthy songs, the album provides a lot of amazing and memorable tracks such as “Alien”, “My Own Country”, “Greed” and “Watch me as I Fall”. At no point, while listening to Straight Ahead, do I feel compelled to skip tracks, while that is not case for many other Pennywise records. The lyrical content, while far from ground breaking, lacks the cheese factor and manages to remain thoughtful enough to stop from deteriorating into complete puffy DC shoe style drivel.

Straight Ahead was the first Pennywise record I bought and digested as full record, as opposed to previously loving a few songs here and there. That fact alone plays significantly into the nostalgia generated when I revisit the record, but Straight Ahead stands up to the test of time without any trouble. These songs could have been written a few years ago and continue to be influences for current punk rock bands, such as Counterpunch, Hit the Switch, and Cigar to name a few.

Straight Ahead is a stand out skate-punk record from the late 90’s and will always remain a classic for me. The songs are catchy and some of the most sing along friendly anthems suitable for any road trip. It is no secret that Pennywise has other amazing records under their belts, but Straight Ahead will always be a discography stand out whether it is 1999 or 2019.