Pennywise - The Fuse (Cover Artwork)


The Fuse (2005)


If ever there was a band who believe in the mentality of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," it's definitely Pennywise. Ever since their self-titled debut they've stuck rigidly to playing rapid-fire skate punk and seemingly not really caring whether people like it or not. Album number eight The Fuse is therefore going to please ardent fans of the band, whereas the detractors will most likely remain unimpressed by the 15 tracks on offer here.

"Knocked Down" kicks things off as they mean to go on, albeit with slightly less crisp production than the last couple of (admittedly pretty nondescript) efforts; however, Jim Lindberg's voice is still a commanding presence and the musicianship is as tight as ever. On tracks like "Competition Song" they ape Bad Religion almost down to a tee, but to me this is not such a bad thing; if you're gonna sound like another band, make sure it's a good one. Their message still remains a political one, but they also make references to the struggles of every day life and the current state of humanity. "Fox TV" and "The Kids" both show that there is still a hunger in this band which might not be sated for a while yet, and there is almost a metal infuence on a couple of tracks, albeit not as evident as with other awesome punk bands like Strung Out or A Wilhelm Scream.

Maybe there are one too many songs on The Fuse, as songs like "Disconnect" and "Premeditated Murder" are pretty substandard compared to the fury and blitz of the first few tracks, but this is a relatively minor point of contention for me. As somebody who has been a fan of this band and defended them from the usual criticsims levelled their way for a good few years now, this record proved, after the disappointment of 2003's From The Ashes, that there was still some life in this particular dog yet. The trends may be changing all the time, but it is pretty refreshing to see a band stick to what it does well and that gives the fans what they like. The Fuse isn't their best work by any means, but while they may not top the albums that were released in the mid-90's, Pennywise still have the ability to leave an impression, which this album certainly did with me.

The Mars Volta they are not, but for anyone who still appreciates the skate punk Epitaph sound, you could do a lot worse.