Ahh, Pennywise, from the idyllic surroundings of Southern California’s Hermosa Beach, or as per its motto, “the best little beach city.” Like Black Flag and Descendants before them (also both from there), they are a bonafide institution, and rightly so. Pennywise kick serious ass, and have done it for 30 fucking years. In my eyes, and many others, they’re the definitive “Skate-Punk” band. I could write a whole other essay on why they hold that title, but that’s not what we are here for.
Never Gonna Die is the first record with returning frontman Jim Lindberg in just over 10 years, and because of that, there is a huge buzz around it. My word, it isn’t going to let anyone down! Fast, intense, and memorable, like all Pennywise should be, but this time you can tell they had a real hunger when recording these songs.
Never Gonna Die storms out the gates with the title track, that is surely yet another Pennywise live anthem. It’s followed by the hyper fast ‘American Lies,’ that has some awesome palm muting from Fletcher Dragge, who is seriously one of the most underrated players in Punk Rock today. ‘Keep Moving On’ keeps up the pace with Bad Religion vocal hooks and a highlight being a short but effective guitar solo. Of the three tracks released before the album, my personal favorite was ‘Live While You Can’ with its “I’ve got a time bomb ticking in my head” refrain. Its sublime pre-chorus shows that Lindberg hasn’t lost any knack for great vocal lines.
There is actually a track on Never Gonna Die that is a bit of a departure for Pennywise, which should really stick it to the clueless “if you own one Pennywise album, you own them all” brigade! ‘Can’t be Ignored’ just has a bit of a different vibe going on, and even features some clean guitar passages, yes, seriously! Cameron Webb handling production and mixing duties again audibly shows why he is one of the best out there right now, and in him, the band really seem to have found a true fifth member. The mix is full, clear, unfussy, and in your face.
Perhaps Never Gonna Die is best summed up by some long-term fans who have called it their best in a very long time and some even saying it could be their very best. Whilst it’s not my personal choice of best, it is awesome and welcomes back these stalwarts in some style. Long live Pennywise or should I say, Never Gonna Die!