Album Review

Pennants, Clumsy Nostalgia

Trucking their way through the northeast corridor's backroom scene, Pennants serves up raw garage band energy occasionally dolloped with a silky indie smoothness, reminiscent of a Gabby's World/Bellows act. Their freshman album drops like a newspaper on the doorstep—a souvenir from a tour along the Brooklyn-Queens border and into named streets of Manhattan, even packing The Bitter End as an electric primetime opener.

Having heard most of the tracks on the tour, loyal followers of the band may press play and content themselves to fall into a state of–...well,– but soft! The album wafts in on a smoky saxophone solo that grips me with retroactive disappointment—where was Devin hiding this all along? Under Ray's mop? I need more.

Don't get attached to the sound, but don't quite leave it behind yet. Coming down the pipe are tangy, high-voltage riffs to make you wish you were down there in the half-finished basement with them. "Temporary" flings open a screen door, behind it a backyard barbecue or your best beach day of the summer. "Movie", the two-part ballad-turned-foot-stomper, winds you down to a vinyl-coated living room couch just to turn you back up to 11 once you've settled in. Try to stand still, I dare ya.

And that sax? It returns alongside the very same chord that kicked us off, to herald (à la The 1975) my favorite track from this crew. Pensive and moody, "Transit" puts you in the passenger seat of a familiar vehicle as a drizzly New England landscape both crawls and careens by. A thudding, racing tempo of lane markers begins to blur as you cross a rechristened bridge and a ghostly skyline in the distance quickens your heartbeat. You've left home behind; home awaits. The dichotomy of transience, mourned by Devin's lamenting gravel, keeps this song on repeat for a week, at least.

With this first release, Pennants has bottled up memories you forgot you had, and given them a good shake. Starting things off as they have, it's clear that the road is wide open for this young band.

Clumsy Nostalgia releases on November 14.

I gave a talk!

The Global Positioning System: History, Technology, & Applications

Presentation at Fordham University | March 27, 2019

Link to Slides