Banner Pilot


Written by: PP on 29/04/2014 00:20:31

Midwestern punk rockers Banner Pilot have reached their fourth album with "Souvenir", and at this point it has become crystal clear we'll be hearing plenty more albums like it in the future. Previous album "Heart Beats Pacific" basically saw the band experiment ever so slightly with their soundscape in an attempt to feature some more ambition in their sound through the addition of polish, reduction of tempo and other tiny adjustments that were only really noticeable to die-hard Banner Pilot fans rather than the public at large. "Souvenir" on the other hand re-adjusts their sound back to the awesome melodic ringing tunes of "Collapser" where the vocals were delivered in a more raw manner and the choruses in general were just that much more explosive. So basically, we're returning back to what is considered the signature sound of Midwestern punk, the quintessentially Banner Pilot way of interpreting classic Dillinger Four and Lawrence Arms songs in their own, simplistic manner. Call it regression if you will, but let's not kid ourselves here: "Souvenir" is exactly how we want all our future Banner Pilot albums sounding as well.

Technically speaking, it is the same three chords that are being rehashed here with thick, yet smooth bass melodies and textured vocals as on all Banner Pilot albums to date, but does that really matter? The doubts may creep in on the odd selection for opener, "Modern Shakes", which is a slower, mid tempo tune that lacks the explosive vocal patterns Banner Pilot has always been known for. And even though "Effigy" follows it with a classic case of raw crooning courtesy of vocalist Nick Johnson in the first suggestion we may be returning to "Collapser"-era simplicity, it isn't until "Dead Tracks" that the album properly picks off.

Interestingly enough, when you playing the album in order, the songs slowly get faster and faster with "Dead Tracks" featuring a quintessential Midwestern melody, before "Heat Rash" responds as one of the album highlights with its upbeat tempo, a true return-to-form track if the band even needed one in the first place. Its "right's summer somewhere" lyricism is as catchy as it is nostalgic, especially since it's followed by vocal lines that utilize the quiet/loud dynamic as well as you'll see any punk band do. "Fireproof" is again faster, and "Shoreline" is ridiculously catchy afterward with its unusual bridge/chorus melody alternation.

This goes on for a while until the band again experiments with slower song structures on the second half of the album (though still keeping things nicely mid-tempo, mind you), culminating in the fantastic "Summer Ash". The opening here is among the slowest you'll hear Banner Pilot play, taking a deliberately balladic stance for the first 45 seconds or so, before the song transforms into quintessentially Banner Pilot styled ringing guitars, the semi-unclean vocals of Johnson, and an overall crescendo structure that keeps on getting better and better. At nearly five and a half minutes, it's by far the longest song Banner Pilot have written to date, and yet it works because of the slight variety found in passages throughout the track.

It's a fitting closing piece on an album that sounds pretty much exactly as you expected it to sound like, and justifiably so. Did anyone seriously expect Banner Pilot to move away from writing two to three-minute punk rockers with the same Midwestern slant and the same chord progressions on their fourth album? Nope, and neither should they. Few other Midwestern punk bands are as consistently good songwriters as Banner Pilot, so there's absolutely no need to reinvent the wheel here nor in the future. Here's for another ten albums of sounding exactly the same - the band that delivers exactly what their fans want from them without bothering us with unnecessary flair or artistic evolution.


Download: Heat Rash, Fireproof, Shoreline, Summer Ash, Dead Tracks
For the fans of: Off With Their Heads, The Lawrence Arms, The Flatliners, Dillinger Four
Listen: Facebook

Release date 15.04.2014
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