Pennybridge Pioneers

Written by: PP on 29/05/2009 05:46:56

Next in my series of older album reviews is a record by a band once considered to be the best punk band from Sweden, Millencolin. Remember the days when they were actually good? Yeah it's been a while, so I don't blame you if you don't. I mean "Kingwood" was decent, but in no way comparable to classics like "Life On A Plate" or this one in particular, "Pennybridge Pioneers", considered by many to be the best Millencolin album or at least on par with "Life On A Plate" (yeah I won't mention their debut "Tiny Tunes" you elitist assholes).

If your only experience of Millencolin is from "Home From Home", "Kingwood" or "Machine 15" and you don't understand what all the fuzz is about, it's not your fault. There isn't a single Millencolin classic on these albums, whereas here's a record which has nothing but classics. "Foxy" has one of the bounciest riffs I've ever heard (and it was written almost 10 years ago), "No Cigar" is an unmatched skatepunk classic (Tony Hawk 2 anyone?), and "Highway Donkey" is just a feel good sing along from start to finish. "The Mayflay" was one of the first tracks to foreshadow the medium tempo Millencolin that we know today, but even here vocalist Sarcevic sounds so passionate while singing the verses that it's easy to fall in love with the song. You see, 10 years ago Millencolin were actually able to write vocal harmonies that are the very definition of infectious. Check out the title track if you don't believe me. Not that it really matters what track you choose, but the biggest skeptics can jump straight to the high-octane "Material Boy" that combines everything great about Millencolin: great skatepunk, irresistible chorus, plenty of emotion and lyrics that everyone can relate to. Even the weaker tracks like "Stop To Think" are so strong that they'll be in constant rotation in your chosen player, given that "Life On A Plate" isn't part of your playlist already. But I'm guessing that if you get this record after reading this review, it'll be there fairly quickly.

Perhaps the best aspect of "Pennybridge Pioneers" is how it appeals to non-punk audiences as well. It's not as high tempo and explosive as the band's earlier work (although it can be in places), and the drumbeat varies from the standard d-beat enough to keep people interested. The only negative I can come up with is how the record sounds somewhat dated. Even though it was released in 2000, it sounds like it's from 1995. But I'm not sure if that's such a bad thing anyway considering how mid to late 90s are considered as the golden era of melodic punk rock. Anyway. I'm not sure why "Pennybridge Pioneers" isn't mentioned more often in talks about the great punk rock albums of the last 10 or 15 years, because there still isn't a band who sounds quite like Millencolin. That they're Swedish and never really broke through in the US could be a contributing factor. But here's for breathing some new life into an old, entirely awesome record.

Download: Material Boy, Foxy, HIghway Donkey, Devil Me, No Cigar
For the fans of: No Use For A Name, Satanic Surfers, Lagwagon, Pennywise, Bad Religion
Listen: Myspace

Release date 22.02.2000

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