One of the most common criticisms of emo and pop-punk music is that it is too boring and unoriginal. In some cases this might be true; after all, an album with a new and experimental sound is definitely more likely to grab the listener’s attention. But on their self-titled debut full-length, Pentimento prove that you can create a passionate and satisfying record without breaking any new ground.
The album begins with the incredible “Unless.” The song serves as a fantastic introduction to the band for those unfamiliar with their two previous efforts. It begins strongly with flourishes of clean guitars during the verses and a soaring chorus, but it really shines in its final 30 seconds. Crunchy instrumentation builds up to the incredible finale before abruptly disappearing to make way for vocalist Jeramiah Pauly’s dynamic and intense performance.
Those who enjoy the melodic punk-rock stylings of the opener certainly won’t be disappointed, as the rest of the album features many songs in a similar vein. The gruff and insanely catchy chorus of “Conscience (Consequence)” is like Hot Water Music covering Taking Back Sunday, and, yes, that is just as awesome as it sounds. “No One Lets You Know” is another song done in the band’s typical style, but shifts the focus from Pauly’s voice to impressive displays of musicianship from guitarist Lance Claypool and drummer Mike Hansen. Closer “On Summer” is possibly the best track on the record that stays in Pentimento’s comfort zone. The song is a testament to the band’s songwriting prowess because while the invigorating finish is good, the quieter and more subdued moments pack even more of an emotional punch. Of course there are some songs (especially “The Wind” and “For Winter”) that are simply pretty good rather than great, but they do fit in well and don’t detract from the overall experience.
However, despite seemingly carving out a strong niche, Pentimento are even more successful when they branch out a little. The Brand New-influenced “Circles” is a major standout that retains the band’s pop sensibilities during the chorus, but the slower tempo and gently plucked guitars during the verses help give the track a fresh feeling. The acoustic rendition of the previously released “The Bridge” is a very stripped down version of the song with nothing more than two guitars and vocals. Despite being out of character on paper, it is executed so well that it still feels very natural and comfortable. “Almost Atlantic” and “Subtle Words” also experiment with the band’s softer side and the calmly poignant results are very reminiscent of Jimmy Eat World. The former features a delightful juxtaposition of Pauly’s smoothest and sweetest vocals on the album and the louder chorus, while the latter dynamically builds upon a simple guitar riff before eventually climaxing in a beautiful cascade of strings.
Throughout Pentimento it is clear that the guys are certainly wearing their influences on their sleeve, but in the absolute best way possible. It takes an incredible amount of talent and some kind of intangible magic to create something on par with aforementioned masters like Jimmy Eat World and Taking Back Sunday, but Pentimento have proven that they are more than capable of making that kind of awesome emo/punk/indie/whatever record. What is especially impressive is that this is just a debut, so, we should have many more classic albums to look forward to.
You can download the record for free at www.pentimentony.com