Formed in Minnesota in 2005, Banner Pilot came together out of the ashes of an array of disbanded musical projects, most notably Rivethead, which founding members guitarist/vocalist Nick Johnson and bassist Nate Gangelhoff were previously a part of. Their latest release, Souvenir, marks the band’s fourth album, and third on Fat Wreck Chords.
The record generally follows the same format that their previous albums did, though it doesn’t feel stale. “Modern Shakes,” the opener on Souvenir, sets the tone of what to expect throughout the duration of the LP—pop punk with a streak of darkness. Each track is an anthem within itself, boasting catchy hooks with an emphasis on a heavy bass guitar that drives most of the songs. This is particularly evident in “Heat Rash,” which is built around a fast and funky bassline that steals the spotlight during every verse. “Summer Ash,” the longest and one of the more mellow tracks, closes out the record, bringing it to a proper finish.
There is an overall sense of melancholy found throughout the disc, demonstrated by lyrics referring to the loss of youth (“Are we still young?/Have we been everything that we’ll become?” from “Letterbox”) and alcoholism (“Now I’m half drunk almost half the time/If you need me I’ll be down on this decline” in “Dead Tracks”).While these are themes that occur frequently, the band manages to find a balance within them so that they don’t risk becoming overbearing or repetitive. Though it takes on heavy topics, Souvenir is both fulfilling and fun, with each song ready to be a crowd pleaser at live shows.
In A Word: Lively