Pennywise. What can I possibly say about this band that hasn't been said before, and isn't said in every review I read about them? Hermosa Beach's very own punk legends, these guys are a fucking institution. You either love them like your own child, or you go for the usual line of 'Yeah, but all their albums sound the same.' The truth is, Pennywise have never lost it in the way that some of their contemporaries have. They still write amazing music. Whether that is because they have stayed true to their sound or not is debatable. What matters is that 'The Fuse' is another great album by a great band.
2003's 'From The Ashes' was the most slickly produced Pennywise record, with some great songs, and it was great to hear the band on their recent European tour playing a load of tracks off it. But 'The Fuse' is more similar to 2001's 'Land Of The Free', slightly edgier and darker than its predecessor. Opener 'Knocked Down' is a fist-in-the-air hardcore anthem, which sets out the band's intentions. All the usual subjects are dealt with -- time, death, society's failures and social commentary. The line "Just need a reason/Why can't I just justify/All the pain and suffering" ('Yell Out') sums up what you need to know.
As ever, there are a whole load of choruses that get stuck in your head nice and quick (there's no point listing them -- every tune has one) and then there is the trademark brutal tightness/cohesion and Fletcher's immaculate guitar parts that keep the songs sounding fresh. Even the slower moments ('Closer' & the laconically titled 'Lies') still have that certain effortless buzz about them that the band had on 'Alien' a few years back. It is also noticeable that there are less slower paced tunes than on 'From The Ashes'; it is far more of a mixture, reminding me more of 'Straight Ahead' than anything else.
Pennywise are still one of the most important punk bands in the world. And this album is there to remind everyone about that fact. It might not be breaking new ground for them, but while they still write albums as good as this, what is the point in changing?