Does anyone reading this remember picking up the Punk O Rama 2 compilation back in the mid 90s, and not recognizing the band playing track number 3, "Cashed In"? This was my first introduction to Pulley, and I'm guessing as well to many other people who for many years have followed the melodic hardcore style of skate punk that was made popular by the bands in Epitaph and Fat. In those days, the vast majority of the bands on Epitaph fit into that mold, and even though the band has continued to put out consistently solid releases, none of their albums elicited such a strong and positive reaction out of me as Matters did. This has barely left my CD player for the last month - this shit is catchy as hell. Whether this is due to having a shortage of this style of music these days, I don't know. All I know is that Pulley's latest album just plain rips.
Matters is an album that grabs you by the neck from the first song and doesn't let go until the very end. With the exception of a slow and slightly odd (at least for Pulley) acoustic closing song, there is no slowing down here. "Looking Back," "I Remember," and "Huber Breeze" are a few of the album's best examples of the band keeping it in high gear at 500mph, the latter two featuring some particularly impressive guitar work. One of my favorite tracks is "Insects Destroy," which has a decidedly Bad Religion feel to it. It's a little slower, and the fact that this song deals with societal issues and is one of the album's more serious tracks, further accentuates that comparison. If you're a fan of a band harmonizing, you're in for a real treat as these songs are chock full of fresh sounding harmonies. And who could resist the chorus in "Poltergeist?"
Matt Hyde (whose credits include Slayer, Sum 41, and No Doubt) did a superb job production wise. None of Pulley's previous recordings have sounded as crisp and urgent as Matters does. Scott did a terrific job with his vocals, sounding with more conviction and passion than every before, while Mike and Jim's dual guitar attack effortlessly carry the melodies. The rhythm section has to be one of the album's main assets, with the drumming especially achieving a level of precision not often attained anymore.
This record also includes an enhanced version with some home movies and a couple of videos, so all you downloaders have an incentive to purchase this. Fans of Lagwagon, Bad Religion, Ten Foot Pole, and No Use for a Name will find much to cherish in this album, but to anyone who wants to hear a really solid punk rock album without any sugary qualities should get their hands on Matters. Between this and the upcoming Bad Religion album, Epitaph looks to have a great 2004 ahead of them.
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