Musically, Pennywise has changed little since that definitive track. Anchored by drummer Byron McMackin, who ambitiously adds rolls and fills in the middle of breakneck backbeats, the group follows familiar progressions to fist-shaking refrains. Its songs are roughly 40 percent chorus, with single-syllable rhyme schemes of the "can/plan" variety. Singer Jim Lindberg rants obliquely about "society" and over-obviously about "Fox TV," without straining his mild yelp.
But Pennywise struggles when it steps out of its decade-deep niche. Its slow material feels artificially sedate, and its staggered-riff hardcore lacks heft. Given the band's inability to evolve artistically, this isn't a group for fans to grow old with. But The Fuse, like Pennywise's earlier efforts, is an ideal primer album for young punks. It's ultra-fast, yet sing-along poppy and filled with self-help slogans to inspire those receptive to simplistic solutions.