Sound — 8
Pennywise were kind of like the more underground version of The Offspring who had a little more punk rock street cred, but also shied away from punk's reputation for violence with the band instead trying to spread their agenda of positive thought and action and transcendentalism. It seems like a weird philosophy for a punk band on paper, but it somehow worked in reality. The band formed in 1988, naming their band after the clown character from the Stephen King novel, "It." The band's lineup was fairly stable until bass player, Jason Thirsk, committed suicide in 1996. Since then Randy Bradbury has played bass for the band. While the band has never received a large amount of mainstream success, they have been commercially successful, having independently sold millions of records. "Yesterdays" has the band revisiting the songs written by Jason Thirsk, though some of the bass on the songs is performed by his replacement, Randy Bradbury. There are eleven songs totaling 29 minutes of play time if you don't count the last track titled "Band Practice 89" which is over 13 minutes long, and doesn't seem to be available on the digital version of the album.
The album opens up with "What You Deserve," which starts out with a recording from a police scanner, then there is a bassline that is really reminiscent of early Mike Dirnt (before he got lazy). The song does a lot of things right from there, not least of which is using "gang vocal" style backup vocals. "Restless Time" opens up with a really catchy little guitar riff, which almost reminds me more of '90s grunge than punk rock. Maybe there are moments of the song where it reminds me a little bit of Polaris and their theme music they used for the show "The Adventures of Pete & Pete." "Noise Pollution" is a more straight forward punk song with simpler harmony and simpler riffs. "Violence Never Ending" is one of two songs on the album that are less than 2 minutes (the other one being "Restless Time"). It reminds me a lot of The Offspring. "Am Oi!" is pretty immediately one of my favorite songs, pretty much based solely off the vocal melody (where the vocals actually hold a melody). "Thanksgiving" has a pretty interesting message in the lyrics. "She's a Winner" has an interesting little guitar melody, with the bass playing the harmony line to the melody. "Slow Down" has an interesting build up, with the tempo starting fairly slow and building up really fast, then kind of slowing down a little bit for the vocals. "Public Defender" is one of the songs on this album that seem a lot like some '90s grunge riffs, and this is also one of the tracks with some of the more interesting vocals on the album. "No Way Out" starts out with a cool little riff, and has some of the more negative lyrics from the album. "I Can Remember" has a cool intro that is very much like something I would expect from The Offspring or maybe even Rancid. The vocals definitely have a lot more in common with old Rancid than The Offspring. The song is definitely one of my favorites with a positive message and a solo made up of a few natural harmonics. Overall, I was really pulled into this album.
Lyrics — 7
Jim Lindberg performs vocals on all the songs on the album, and honestly he's an excellent vocalist for the punk genre. Considering these songs were recorded all the way from 1989 to 2014, which is a gap of 25 years, it is amazing that you don't hear drastic differences in his voice. As a sample of the lyrics, here are some from the track "No Way Out": "So many times you'd like to just leave behind/ but there's no way out, no way out/ In my eyes, I see what you get/ you take a chance you get regret/ there's no roundabout way or way out/ there's nothing to talk about/ there's no way out, no way out, no way out." Most of the lyrics don't have the best syntax and seem to sometimes be incomplete thoughts, but it really works for punk music.
Overall Impression — 8
There are some really good riffs on this album, which surprised me as I'm used to punk music either sounding like pop punk or straight up eighth note chugging punk - not saying there isn't any straight eighth notes, but there is definitely some variety. My favorite songs on the album are probably, "I Can Remember," "What You Deserve," and "She's a Winner." I don't understand completely where the band is coming from releasing an album of songs written by a member who died almost 20 years ago, but I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and just enjoy the album.