Although original plans saw the debut album by Buffalo residents Pentimento being released in conjunction with record labels Paper + Plastick and Black Numbers, ongoing legal issues with Panic Records have resulted in a (free) self-release. There are no hard copies available in shops right now, nor will the download be available forever as it stands.
With the album already attracting attention for those slightly curious reasons and with the band so adamant that these songs must be heard, there is a certain uphill battle on the cards. The record pushes for the top of that hill at a remarkably steady pace – ‘Pentimento’ is not a hard hitting album. There are no immediate moments of pure expressionism nor any quirks one might associate with their closest contemporary Seahaven, but what the record does offer is an engaging slab of emotional punk music.
Not far removed from the likes of Balance and Composure or the aforementioned Seahaven, Pentimento follow the path laid out by their contemporaries almost religiously. Opener ‘Unless’ begins with characteristic guitar solos and strained vocals. It introduces the listener to the juxtaposition of vocalists Jaramiah Pauly’s tone and the emotional tinge on punk-rock. This emotion is displayed early on lyrically with “everyone I know considers me a joke, for good reason” -representative of the self-pitying lyrics which formulate the remainder of the record. The band joins the wagon currently combining context associate with teen-angst emo bands of the previous decade with a rougher edge; think Make Do and Mend with less of an overt punk overtone.
At times the album pushes further into mainstream emo territory – the subtle key change in ‘Conscience (Consequence)’ at the one-minute mark makes way for a nostalgic vocal harmony. As Pauly sings “I never gave up on you, don’t give up on me” on ‘The Wind’, the following emotional explosion owes heavily to the likes of Taking Back Sunday.
It would be misguided to judge this self-titled debut against the cleaner cut generation as the overall sound substantially benefits from the gruffer moments of punk. Even if this is a typical angsty record and even if it follows patterns championed by other bands, ‘Pentimento’ sounds comparatively mature. There is a vital contradiction between the lyrical content and the accompanying sound; a sound generated from a band that has clearly grown up listening to a magnitude of emotional punk-rock. As a means to quantify confused adult emotions ‘Pentimento’ does what it set out to do, yet falls in previously traversed territory.
Had Pentimento released this album two years ago it may have sounded fresh and invigorating; instead it sits (admittedly pointedly) between bands of a similar ilk. That said, the band have self-released a collection of engaging and enticing tracks circling around relatable themes. The top of that hill may be difficult to reach, but ‘Pentimento’ provides the necessary initial push for a band with plenty of future promise in the face of some troubling present issues.