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Banner Pilot’s fourth record ‘Souvenir’ was intended to feature two key elements, seamlessly melded into the band’s sound. The first, a healthy dose of nostalgia. An acknowledgement, if you will, of the sound and genre that is very much this band. The second, progression and boundary pushing, you know the drill.
Opening track and first single, ‘Modern Shakes’, definitely ticks the first box. It’s an up-beat punk rock affair with interesting nods, mainly in the guitar lines, to the alternative rock/pop sound of the mid to late nineties.
The second box certainly gets ticked as well. However, in a more gradual way over the course of the remaining eleven tracks. Interestingly, and more than likely accidentally enough, in their quest to combine these two elements, Banner Pilot have made possibly their strongest record so far, with enough dynamics in there to keep things interesting, but with a common thread so that nothing seems too out of place.
Lyrically, the album is based around reflection, and an acknowledgement of a certain stage of life (most notably the stage that the band members are currently in, go figure). However, this has no influence on the sound, that is to say, Banner Pilot aren’t slowing down. ‘Shoreline’ centres around heartbreak and regret, while ‘Letterbox’ deals with someone who has realised that their youth is fickle and pretty much spent. These may seem like quite negative subjects but the band present them in a way that makes everything seem ok. Let’s put it down to the dirty guitar riffs and punk like drums, or even the playful, garage punk sounds of tracks like ‘Hold Fast’.
The sense of melody, and even elements of pop that run rampant throughout pretty much every chorus line in every track on this record help make it a stand out as well. They are the relief for the bitter verses lines and mangled guitar sounds that open up into something bright and hopeful, almost as if the mood of ‘Souvenir‘ is attempting to mimic the juxtaposition of the genres, all bundled into some fun.
Ten years in and Banner Pilot have done something to refresh themselves, which has resulted in their finest work to date. ‘Souvenir’ pays its homage and attempts something new, all in the same, short, envisioned breath.
1. Modern Shakes
3: Dead Tracks
4: Heat Rash
8: Hold Fast
12: Summer Ash