Published Apr 16, 2018Reviews are inherently selfish things, so I avoid being self-referential at almost all costs, but sometimes personal context is necessary. My tween days were spent blaring Pennywise's 2000 album Live @ the Key Club from a boombox as loud as my brother and I could get away with while jumping on our trampoline.
Never Gonna Die marks the homecoming of longtime singer and "Punk Rock Dad" Jim Lindberg, whose return release, 2014's Yesterdays, was more a tribute to fallen bassist Jason Thirsk and featured songs written by and/or during his time in the band, which ended in 1996.
Despite trampoline traditions, the name of the game is more ollie than bounce for these skate punks, who more or less return to their signature sound, for better and worse. The album starts closer to the glory days, with the title track's metallic riffing and requisite "whoas," the frantic palm-muted verse of "American Lies," the motivational mosher "Keep Moving On" that shakes its "American Jesus" beginnings quickly, and super-catchy "Live While You Can."
Unfortunately, the album's mid-section lulls, with "We Set Fire" almost steering the band to pop punk territory, plus the use of the word "bourgeoisie" is a little clunky," while "She Said" is almost too familiar, recalling "God Save the USA" from 2003's From the Ashes — perhaps a sign I've listened to this band too much in my day or that they're too good at this sound — and "Goodbye Bad Times," plods along at a forgettable mid-pace.
I guess that shows the problem with hitting a career-defining sound (or trick, for that matter); people will always remember you and yearn for it — just ask Tony Hawk how many times he's been asked to perform a 900° spin. Still, after that lull, it's back to business as usual for these peppy punks to close out the album with few offences.
While the band has undoubtedly been the soundtrack to many folks' skateboarding escapades, for myself the ultimate litmus test isn't whether it'd play while one ollies, but whether it'd play while one jumps on a trampoline, and in that regard Never Gonna Die is a success. (Epitaph)