Like a guard dog gnawing on the mail carrier's shoe, Matters, PULLEY's fifth album for Epitaph, is steeped in tenacity and conviction. As the disc's dozen tracks attest, the Simi Valley-bred quintet's undeviating drive to craft vibrant, able-bodied anthems gives the group a distinct edge over the bulk of California's punk merchants.
Simply put, Matters -- produced by Matt Hyde (Slayer, No Doubt, Fu Manchu)
-- has more hooks than a Home Depot aisle. Just check "Huber Breeze," an amalgam of SoCal punk ferocity and Beach Boys-inspired harmonies, or "A Bad Reputation," which inaugurates this mighty rekkid with an unforgettable, don't-fuck-with-me tact.
"We kind of just stumbled into each other," explains frontman Scott Radinsky, talking about PULLEY's studio dalliance with Hyde. "It was good timing and a learning experience for all of us. It was cool to be working with someone different for the first time in awhile, but everyone hit it off and we're obviously really proud of the outcome."
And what glorious results this quintet has yielded on Matters, where Radinsky's unique lyrical outlook and capable, powerful pipes find model augmentation in the fierce, imaginative twin guitar offensive of Mike Harder and Jim Blowers. Of course, Tony Palermo's rapid, rabid drumming and the sturdy, reliable thump of bassist Tyler Rebbe are equally essential to the disc's heartfelt roar.
Formed in the mid-90s, when Radinsky -- then balancing punk rock with a career as a major league relief pitcher -- exited Ten Foot Pole. From there, the prolific PULLEY was born, carving out three well-received long players (1996's Esteem Driven Engine, '97's 60 Cycle Hum, and '99's self-titled release) in its first three years. With the advent of 2001's Together Again For The First Time, the second in a series of discs made with producer Ryan Greene, the troupe finally had the opportunity to engage in extensive trekking. It was that touring that resulted in a longer-than-usual wait time for Matters.
"The chance to spend a lot of time together traveling and playing live without having breaks in the momentum has really helped our focus," Radinsky says. "We've had the chance to write a lot more, and we think we've got a real strong batch of songs because of it."
Indeed, the patience has paid off for the fans that may now behold copies of what is easily PULLEY's finest album yet. Bold and contagious on "YSC," the band embracing the kind of depth that mall punk just doesn't boast. Starting with Harder's somber, bluesy intro, the song evolves into a twang-bolstered blast-a-thon about police hassles and party-crashing buzzkills like no other ever designed.
As its blistering musicianship pushes PULLEY, the vitriolic Radinsky finds himself crawling from the wreckage of a failed relationship on "Blindfold" while "Insects Destroy" is a look at the greed and ego-addled world we inhabit. And with these determined, intense keepers, driven home by the fiery charge of Mike, Jim, Tyler and Tony, Scott has emerged a better, wiser man.
If the Bic lighter-deserving ballad, "Thanks," is a glistening ode of gratitude to the friends and loyal followers that have sustained the group through the years, it's also evidence that the band is capable of glimmering beauty when it wants. As sure as the postman will hobble back to his truck on one boot, PULLEY's take on the sound that launched Epitaph continues to thrive on Matters.