Pickled Dick - Panda-Moanium (Cover Artwork)

Pickled Dick

Panda-Moanium (2005)

Don't Rush Me / Killer

Go ahead and feed me the old adage about how you can't judge a book by its cover, but to say that I was hesitant to even listen to an album entitled Panda-Moanium from a band named Pickled Dick is an understatement. I expected simplistic songwriting and lyrical content that would make even Blink-182's early output look mature. Instead, within the first minute of opener "Battleaxe," I was surprised to find a pop-punk band that bears a striking resemblance to Lookout! releases of the late 80's and early 90's. There's the energy of early Green Day in the upbeat tempo, the attitude of Screeching Weasel in the vocal delivery, and harmonies that would make even the Queers jealous.

Pickled Dick may be a three-piece from West Liss, England, but they are doing their damnedest to sound like they are from the East Bay. The drums are fast and make nods to 50's and surf rock, the guitars shy away from riffs in favor of three-chord progressions, the bass shows it can do more that just follow the root notes, and singer Domb sounds like a more pop version of John E. Trash from HomeGrown.

Maybe variation isn't Pickled Dick's forte, but when it comes to pop-punk, it doesn't necessarily have to be. You will recognize the chord progressions here, the songs don't shift out of a peppy mid-tempo too often, and plenty of the lyrics address the female sex, which might actually be a good thing considering that other topics covered, like jamming in the jungle and being pirates put the band on a one-way train to Cheeseville.

Luckily despite the repetitive songwriting the album doesn't really seem to drag thanks to short track lengths and melodies that just beg to be sung along to. Oh, and I did I mention harmonies? These guys can crank out some ridiculously sugar-sweet shit that will have even the biggest of cynics rediscovering their sweet tooth. For evidence, just check out the a cappella sections of "Jungle Jam" and "Salamander" or the anthemic breakdowns of "Go!" and "Ship Ahoy."

Some songs like "I'll Be Here Waiting" and "Runaway" do come off as just filler, and Panda-Moanium won't be winning Pickled Dick an award for innovation anytime soon, but that doesn't really seem to matter here. This album succeeds because it brings the sonically pleasing elements of memory clinging pop together with the youthful fervor of punk.