Punk band realizes they actually like the Stones, what else is new?Nettwerk, 2017
6.8 / 10
California band together PANGEA have been dealing in garage-rock for a while now. It’s a sound that’s becoming a bit tired. After all, we seem to get a new Ty Segall or John Dwyer release every other month. On their last album, 2014’s Badillac, the band separated themselves from the pack with their solid songwriting, and downright vicious energy. With their new record, Bulls and Roosters, the band keeps their songwriting intact but unfortunately blends back into the garage-rock masses once again. Getting rid of much of their punk fury, together PANGEA opts for the stoned, country-fried rock popularized by bands like Twin Peaks and Black Lips. When it works, it delivers. But more often than not, the band comes off as apathetic and automatic, lacking the palpable fire of early releases.
The whole record sounds like a punk/classic rock cocktail. Still, there are some jangly 80s influences thrown in for good measure. “Money On It”, a Roy Orbison belter with an E Street breakdown, is an easy highlight. It kicks off a string of highlights that continues with “Better Find Out”. “Kenmore Ave.” throws in equal parts aggression and melody. It’s a cascade of energy not unlike their previous records. “Peach Mirror” has the blinding echo and gallop of a Meat Puppets tune. “Gold Moon” reads Thin Lizzy all the way to its guitar solo.
This is all well and good, but there isn’t any staying power to a lot of the songs. “Friend of Nothing” and “Stare at the Sun” are interesting diversions, sounding like British singles from 1984. However, they don’t fit the feel of the album. “The Cold” does itself in by its vague hook, segueing into an outro that the song doesn’t remotely earn.
It’s hard to tell if the back-porch vibes are a good look for the group because the best songs here are still the straight-up anthems. If the country posturing is the sound of this group “maturing”, as long as they keep cranking out the tunes, it’s fine by me. Perhaps they’ll find a way to throw in some emotional resonance to their sound. These are undeniably all solid if a bit empty songs.