Named after their touring van, Matters, Pulley's fifth full-length, marks a new staple in the band's already impressive catalog. As stated by lead singer Scott Radinsky on one of the four videos included in the enhanced portion of the disc, Matters took over a year to write, and it shows. Let me make this clear right now: there is zero filler on this record.
If I were to classify the band's sound, I'd call it happy skatepunk. Pulley are much too fast to be pop-punk, yet too soft and clean to be straight-up punk rock. Think of how Strung Out sounded on the bouncier tracks of Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues, subtract just a bit of technical proficiency, add more zeal, and you‚ve got Pulley.
Every song on here crackles with energy. "Huber Breeze" contains a fast, wicked solo that conjures memories of listening to my very first punk album, Leche Con Carne! "I Remember" starts off as a blazing but softly-sung song, then becomes downright scary with Radinsky belting out "I know their faces and I know their names/Been to the places and I remember" in the final few seconds in a voice demonized by effects. Pulley also throw in a couple of slow numbers for good measure: "Insects Destroy" and "Immune," both led by anthematic choruses designed to rouse up crowds. These are the kinds of moments that define the blissfulness of music. It's great to see that there still exists bands willing to play no-frills punk despite the growing popularity of supposedly-profound concept albums and the Return of the Synthesizers.
The production is absolutely fantastic. Radinsky's vocals meld beautifully with the instrumentation. The fact that his pipes are on par with Jason Cruz's isn't too bad a thing, either. I'm no musician, but to my ears, the drumsticks pound the skins at a frantic rate and the dual guitars of Jim Blowers and Mike Harder crash together in invigorating patterns. That's a good thing.
Lyrically, Radinksy is not exactly on the same level as a Kasher or a Schwarzenbach. His lyrics mainly address troubled relationships, "It's only over when you've given up on me"; drug addiction, "Give me all the drugs you have/One more shot and I'll be dead"; and what it is to be a artist, "Time to time I write these rhymes/It takes me to a better place." While not amazing, they suit the overall sound of the band, which is all that I ask for as a listener. Pulley aren't here to revolutionize music or express awe-inspiring ideas: they just want to write and play some awesome skatepunk.
My only gripe with Matters comes with its slightly offbeat sequencing. Track 7 clearly contains two (rocking) songs, which is plain weird halfway through a record. Also, there's a twelve-second gap between tracks 11 and 12. That slightly botches the flow of the album.
But, those tiny flaws don't conceal the fact that Matters is a timeless punk record. Had it been released in 1994, it would have been just as exciting to hear as it does right now. Frankly, punk hasn't sounded this great in years.
Buy this record. It matters.