Pulley - Matters
Record Label: Epitaph
Release Date: April 6, 2004
Allow me to start with an interesting factoid about Pulley. Front-man Scott Radinsky played professional baseball in the MLB for more than ten years, not the sort of person then, that one might expect to perform the lead vocals on a punk rock record then.
With that in mind, allow me to begin my review for Pulley's most recent (to date) offering. Released on Epitaph Records in 2004, Matters presented it's listeners with a healthy mix of modern punk riffage, and subject matter that spanned most messages the genre has been trying to put across for decades. Things start very well in the shape of "A Bad Reputation". This nostalgic take on going to shows when you were a little younger not only put a massive smile on my face, but was eerily reminiscent of those moments when I started to realise that some people take themselves far too seriously, something that Pulley do not seem to be doing in this album.
Whilst there are obviously moments where serious subject matter does come to the fore (i.e. the openly anti-establishment rantings of "Insects Destroy" and the album's closer; "Thanks" which is dedicated to those who have supported the band in the past, present and future), one never feels too far from a light-hearted moment either. There are some bands where this lack of seriousness does come across as a problem in my eyes (Bowling for Soup spring instantly to mind) especially when the themes of the record are as varied as they are on Matters. However, I actually find this to be one of the album's most pleasing qualities. I found that some mid-2000s punk rock albums, could have been argued as becoming stale after a few listens. Matters, however, presented me with something that seems fresh, time after time. In particular I refer to the band's use of more complicated melodies and solos, used throughout the album. The positive feel to the album is continued through rich vocal harmonies, and a simple yet tight rhythm section. With tracks such as 'Huber Breeze' sticking so close to these staple ideas of skate-punk, I find they never fail to put a smile on my face.
However, there are one or two slight nags about the album. The fact that the lyrical content of some of the tracks, in particular "Stomach Aches" and "I Remember" seem to present a disillusionment with the direction in which the punk rock scene is going, which seems slightly contradictory when one considers the changes that the band seemed to have made between their first album (the sensibly raw as you like, mid 90s effort, Esteem Driven Engine) and Matters, however, this is only a small point, when you consider the record as a whole. How this band never got big off the back of this album (or their earlier efforts for that matter) is beyond me...