New Orleans based melodic hardcore punk rockers PEARS are back with a third self-titled full-length album consisting of 14 in-your-face, anxiety-ridden tracks. The record is a great refresher course for those who are into punk and hardcore (or a beginner’s guide for those who are not). It’s heavy. It’s fast. It’s old-school meets new-school. It certainly turns what could easily be a tired, dialed-in, predictable sound into more unpredictable fare. From a music scene that lacks genuine and personal punk rock at times, this the best punk record of 2020 (so far). While this album certainly has all the clichéd punk trappings, it does everything it can to escape its own stereotypes.

PEARS’ opening track “Killing Me” starts the record off with a Descendents/ALL-esque sound. The record continues in this same tradition ’til the finish. The production is smooth, tight, in-focus, and not too overdone for this type of sound. The guitars are warm and cut through. The drums sound like drums. The bass guitar sounds like a bass guitar. There’s not too many effects on the vocals (or at least it sounds that way), which is a nice change for this day and age. The album’s single, “Comfortably Dumb” (obviously a play on Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”), is a mid-paced fusion that explodes into a fast-paced and self-deprecating bitch-list of fear and anxiety. Vocalist Zach Quinn screams his ass off then turns it into a melodic anthem chorus of “I’m terrified of what I have become,” a possible ode of youthful dismay and growing older.

Elsewhere the song “Nervous” is the perfect encapsulation of the album, not just because of the on-the-nose song title, but there’s so much chaotic nervous energy afoot on the record as a whole. “Naptime,” the weakest, dumbest, and most pointless song on the record, is a rehash of PEARS’ earlier records like Go To Prison. “Traveling Time” is a complete departure in style for the band. It could easily be a Weezer song to the average listener if they didn’t know better. Later tracks “Funerals” and “Cynical Serene” feature decent hooks and killer vocal harmonization akin to NOFX and Bad Religion.

All and all a decent album that ought to be in your rotation. Even if you don’t like it for some reason, at least you can appreciate the PEARS logo – it’s reminiscent of the FEAR logo, which is cool, ’cause FEAR was the best punk band of the ’80s. (You can fight me on that.)

[Fat Wreck Chords]