Banner Pilot - Heart Beats Pacific
Record Label: Fat Wreck Chords
Release Date: October 25, 2011
Iíve followed Banner Pilotís career with casual interest, but I have to admit that this bandís 2009 record, Collapser, might have changed a lot more for me than I give it credit for. I was in middle school when New Found Glory and Yellowcard were on MTV and I was in the eighth grade when Green Day released American Idiot. I didnít grow up buying Descendents or Latterman records, and Iím not really sad about that or anythingÖit just meant I had a lot of required listening to do when I found out there was a shit ton of excellent music I was missing out on. Collapser was one of the records that gave me a bridge to ďrealĒ punk rock, as backwards as that may seem. I do owe this band more than I like to admit.
Banner Pilot is really just the latest in a long line of bands on Fat Wreck playing the type of music that Fat Wreck puts out, but Iíve never heard anyone complain about that before. As similar as Heart Beats Pacific is to Collapser, itís not predictable in a bad way. Heart Beats Pacific serves as concrete proof that Banner Pilot is a band every punk fan needs to become familiar with quickly, if they havenít already obsessed over the group.
One thing Heart Beats Pacific does extraordinarily well is tighten up areas where Collapser faltered. The production is better by leaps and bounds, providing the precise amount of touch-up to separate Nate Gangelhoffís brilliant bass lines and the more memorable guitar riffs, but not doing so much that Nick Johnsonís vocals are overwhelmed. Johnsonís lyrics explore more or less expected subjects for a Midwestern punk record; more than your fair share of growing tired of the place you grew up in, drinking, missing people, feeling down, etc.
Johnsonís lyrics do well to give off a lot of imagery. When youíre singing about stuff that everyone has already heard Dear Landlord and everybody else sing about, itís important to stick out of the pack somehow. While a lot of it describes the grey and wintry despairs of living in the Midwest, at least I can actually begin to feel the shittiness after a few repeat listens.
Where Banner Pilot shines is when Johnsonís bratty vocals meet up with explosive guitar riffs for memorable choruses. ďForty DegreesĒ and ďSpanish RedsĒ fill this void near the beginning of the record; ďWestern TerminalĒ does it again near the end. There isnít much here that most havenít heard before, so listeners will just have to appreciate how well Banner Pilot can execute your muted power chord verses and bass-centric rhythms. If that canít be appreciated to the extent it should, what youíre left with is a Heart Beats Pacific record that repeats itself a few times. Some changes in tempo or structure would have done the record a lot of good in holistic flow terms, but Iím just going to be listening to it over a beer in the end. And itís a fantastic record to listen to, if youíre drinking a beer or a whiskey drink or looking for a good way to spend 35 minutes or so. There are lots of worse things you can do with a half hour than listen to this album.
A big problem with new-school pop-punk bands is that they try to reinvent themselves on every album. We saw it happen a lot in 2011. As long as Banner Pilot is playing this driven and purely enjoyable blend of your old-school, punk-first, pop-second pop-punk, I donít mind it if they donít change things up too much. Three full-length records into their career, Banner Pilot has done nothing but provide batches of songs to sing along to, and even if theyíre not doing anything new, at least theyíre copying the old stuff the right way.
7.5/10 - Very Good
It's 2012 and with the new year comes a new personal scoring system, that I actually just stole from Jeremy. Here is the outline of it. I think it will help standardize my scores, mainly in regards to how the album in question stacks up to records similar to it and in the larger scheme of things, and should help stop the inflating of scores that I have to admit I am guilty of from time to time.