Pennywise - Reason to Believe (Cover Artwork)


Reason to Believe (2008)


2008 marks the 20th anniversary of the skatepunk institution known as Pennywise. Their last couple records seemed to indicate that they were no longer passionate about life and music and were turning into grumpy old men re-living the glory days. This was evident with the muted production, rehashed riffs and pseudo-political lyrics on those records. Reason to Believe revitalizes them for (the) my (space) generation, with guitar riffs reminiscent of Straight Ahead and passionate lyrics, Full Circle- style. As well, they upped the ante on anyone who would download it illegally by offering it free to anyone who adds the TEXTANGO "friend" on MySpace. It comes in high-quality MP3s with artwork and lyrics in one big ZIP file.

"(Intro) As long as We Can" opens with the typical news clips and slow music, then transforms into a bona-fide Pennywise opener. It's not the most promising sign, but a good opener. The next song, however, is awesome. "One Reason" features a ripping metal riff, pummeling drums and a classic Pennywise chorus. Think "Alien" on fast-forward. Jim Lindberg's voice and Byron's drumming shine on the next three songs, "Faith and Hope," "Something to Live for" (great backups!), and "All We Need" (amazing riff!).

However, after "All We Need," we run into the album's first hiccup. "The Western World" lacks the element that made their slower songs great: a good chorus. You'll definitely be skipping this one, as not only is the song painfully slow, but the vocals are awful.

The next couple songs are above average, especially "We'll Never Know." "You Get the Life You Choose" -- the title very reminiscent of "Get a Life" -- rips like nothing they've done in the last decade, with devastating drumming and Lindberg's classic shout. "Affliction" finally achieves the quality of their classic "slow" songs, and "Brag, Exaggerate & Lie" is another ripper of a song. And while "Die for You" is fairly average musically, the lyrics are inspiring, pondering human existence and taking comfort in the trust of a loved one. It closes the album well.

Overall, I'd give Reason to Believe a 4.5. The lyrics, artwork, songs and the fact that it's free are all great. I cannot, however, forgive the offense called "The Western World." Unlike their forefathers in Bad Religion, Pennywise have revitalized themselves and their message for a new generation of punk fans, including myself. And while it is free, I don't think it's going to be that way forever. Get it now!