I have a soft spot in my heart for stupid, energetic Punk
Rawk. This is what causes me to continually buy the "each more
boring than the last" Bad Religion releases. And Green Day,
Face To Face, and Down By Law. After a while, it pretty much
all starts sounding the same, with certain elements blended
So Punk is, for the most part, as formulaic as mid 70's Power
Rock or 80's Hair Metal. This is, i think, a fact of life. Innovation
is HARD, which is why so few people actually do truly original
things [See: Godspeed You Black Emporer!].
- crunchy powerchords with very little solos
- the few solos that there are are mercifully short
- driving, kick-heavy/cymbal-light drumming
- fast plunked bass riffs
- lyrics largely about how "gurls don't understand" with ...
- the occasional nod to "punk ethos" like anti-capitalism,
pro-environmentalism, etc. [Not to imply that i think these
people are insincere, but after hearing so many songs about
"The Man" one has to question whether or not the singer really
feels opposed or is he just saying things to hit a
"target market"? Oh, i am soooo cynical....]
And that is how things should be. Most people spend
their lives plodding around in plainly marked territory, recombining
the same A -- G -- E powerchords over and over again. This can
still make for some damn good songs. However, if it has already
been established that you would rather listen to a guy with
thick sideburns and a southern drawl rant about "the man" over
slide guitars rather than a bunch of short-haired guys scream
a similar rant over fast paced power chords, then, well, you're
not gonna find anything to draw you to this.
If, on the otherhand, those short-haired dudes ranting about
the malaise of the suburban experience speak to YOU, then you
might get something out of Pennybridge Pioneers.
Now, with the preliminaries aside let's talk about Millencolin!
This album sounds like a typical SoCal punk disc. It's crunchy.
It's bouncy. It'll get ya pogoing around your apartment much
to the annoyance of the downstairs neighbors! And then on one
song you realize you can't understand some of the words. And
the singer is ranting about hanging with "Dieter". And you think,
where are these guys from? Orange County? San Diego? Berkeley?
Nope. Nor, for that matter, Columbus, Miami, Boston, NYC, Chicago,
Minneapolis, or any other "Punk Mecca" you can name. They are
from a small town outside of Oslo. That's in Norway baby, you
know, one of those cold countries where skiing was invented
not as a recreational activity, but rather as a necessary means
of transport during that half of the year when the country is
covered in snow.
As i have already stated, the genericization of music is a
natural part of life. So these guys are from Norway and yet
they make this music which, over years of experience, i have
learned to associate with the existential boredom of American
Suburbia. Fine, so we exported another commodity to Europe.
So why am i scared? Why do i feel cheated? Greg Gannin, why
hast thou forsaken me? I mean, this disc could have been
made by Bad Religion eight years ago. And yet, it was made now
by Norwegians in the style of Bad Religion. Creepy really. And
depressing on the same level -- heck, i can't figure out how
to play guitar anywhere near that style, and here are some people
who can do it DEAD ON and they even speak a different LANGUAGE
than the people who wrote it in the first place! Sigh....
Sour grapes aside, this is a solid disc. It is classic SoCal
punk, with a firm dash of melody layered over the guitars. It's
fun. It's listenable. It will fill the void in your life left
when you finally overplayed that last Face To Face album and
got sick of it.
But it breaks no new ground. And it probably won't make any