People who say punk is dead haven’t heard PEARS.
People who say punk is dead are either jaded music tuchus-pontificators or graying, wrinkling crust punks. Or maybe they just haven’t heard PEARS. Since punk’s inception, bands have cropped up every so often to raise the bar both creatively and aesthetically. While it’s hasty to place PEARS amongst the greats, its newest effort, Green Star, consistently proves that punk’s not dead at all; in fact, it’s got plenty more to say.
Crammed with assorted punk stylings, Green Star has everything from pop-punk melody to hardcore rage, resting between crusty grit and modern, polished production values. With its devastating low-end, songs like “Cumshots,” “I Love My Kennel” and “The Title of St. Stewart”—the most aggressive and, at times, downright evil sounding tracks on the record—show that PEARS isn’t afraid to go “There,” that oft mentioned but mostly avoided proverbial place just on the other side of a line that most bands dare not cross. You know the place. The out-of-left-field headspace unhindered by assumptions of what a genre is supposed to be. These three songs orbit a realm of aggression most associated with hardcore music: fast, dark, cacophonous and more accustomed to stomping faces than singing hooks. But here, PEARS cuts the grit with five or six seconds of melody—not just a small break from the yellin’ and cussin’, but a genuinely catchy hook that shouldn’t fit but does, simply because PEARS does whatever they want, whenever they want, and are probably as punk as a band can get in the modern era.
PEARS does whatever it pleases, as on “Hinged by Spine.” This fairly straightforward punk tune comes with a relentless drumbeat, gruff vocals and soaring hooks–and for some reason features a brief acoustic guitar interlude in the middle of this kick-the-door-down fun. It may only last three seconds, but it is a genuine surprise. The interlude not only works in this song but is a precursor of what’s to come.
PEARS plays punk rock like Yo-Yo Ma plays the cello. Think three seconds of acoustic guitar in a punk song doesn’t mean jack? Go to “Dizzy is Drunk,” or “Jump the Fuckin’ Ship,” a pair of instrumental tracks for piano. Piano. These are not just some punk playing a three-note progression for filler, but compositions with beauty, grace and an immediacy that doesn’t belong on a punk record, but fits so well here. Why? Because PEARS aren’t just punks playing punk. They’re musicians with tats, ratty clothes and a mean streak using punk rock as a form of true artistry and expression. Yeah, they may flip me the bird and tell me to fuck right off for saying something like that, but, this is no ordinary punk record.
Still don’t believe me? “Cloverleaf” is a straight-up radio rocker that would get the casual in-the-car-only music listener hooked with its piano accents and singalong tune–that is, until it degrades into trash/hardcore brutality that doesn’t let up until, the piano again fades us out and we’re left beaten down and exhausted with a lovely melody burned into our brains.
Green Star is a punk rock record that incorporates elements of the greats. They use Kid Dynamite’s two-step, palm-muted stomp to get folks dancing and filth up the joint with blood curdling vocal nastiness. “Anhedonia” is a perfect example of this homage to the genre heroes that also outright refuses to fall into rip-off territory. “The Flu” is more grounded in Black Flag, mid-tempo but circle-pit inducing with a chorus that brings back memories of “Rise Above.” It’s a controlled and calculated, short but sweet rager that shows off influences, and adds perspective. Like its companion piece “Bug Aware,” it once again shows that PEARS doesn’t give a damn about anybody but punk rock and what they can add to the genre’s rich tapestry.
It’s funny, isn’t it? How punk can be dismissed by critics, former fans who’ve “grown up” and the mainstream as a phase instead of a legitimate musical endeavor. PEARS’ Green Star is pissed off, gross, snotty, catchy, interesting and ultimately experimental in its approach to the genre. It doesn’t dumb down what makes punk great, but pulls it to the forefront and bolsters it from the foundation. Sure, punk’s nothing but youthful rage, but Green Star is stuffed with the kind of fury, disappointment and humor that only an adult that grew up on punk could pull off. Green Star takes the reportedly dead carcass of punk to create something wholly fresh and tremendously listenable, replayable and sharable.