Personnel: Zach Quinn (vocals, guitar, piano); Brian Pretus (vocals, guitar); Jarret Nathan (drums).
Audio Mixer: James Whitten.
Green Star, the sophomore effort from New Orleans hardcore band Pears, is an exhilarating flurry of aggressive punk that leaves little time for respite. The album expands Pears' sound beyond the Descendents and Suicidal Tendencies influence that inspired their debut, incorporating more vicious breakdowns and surprising harmonies, which allows them to explore the gulch between the brutalizing and the melodic. Clocking in at under 30 minutes, Green Star kicks off with the adorable title-dubbing "Christmas '91" and pleasant "Hinged by Spine," before the floor falls away on the blasting "Cumshots." In the frenzy, vocalist Zach Quinn screams and bellows, taunting and growling with each word. Nothing on Green Star exceeds three minutes (most songs are under two minutes) and there's nary a moment to rest, even though the band included two short piano interludes, courtesy of Quinn. Jarret Nathan's drumming is bruising, sending sharp jolts through songs like "I Love My Kennel" and "The Flu." Brian Pretus' guitar jabs and riffs on "Doorbell" and "Green Star," while former bassist Alex Talbot lends a menacing groove beneath it all (especially on epic closer "Great Mt. Ida"). While many of the speedier tracks recall their warp-speed debut, Go to Prison, much of Green Star focuses that energy and buffers it with exciting new flourishes. Album highlight "Anhedonia" is a prime example: kicking off with madcap pogo-bouncing, it includes a breakdown with a Metallica-worthy riff and a psychotic cheerleader chant of "Give me death! Give me death!" before closing with a harmonious '80s-esque singalong that "carries like an atom bomb." "Bug Aware" is existential punk poetry, an assault that ends with cries of "No God, no hope," which sounds more like a celebration than a surrender. "Cloverleaf" could be a lost Foo Fighters-gone-punk demo, while the scary "The Tile of St. Stewart" updates their own "Grimespree" with demon gurgling that could fit nicely on an old-school Marilyn Manson song. This doesn't imply that Pears have abandoned punk for the mainstream. Rather, they've retained their nihilistic spirit, tightening their production and songwriting to create a frenetic, exciting dispatch from a frothing and bloody mosh pit. Green Star is heavier, crazier, and an exciting step forward for Pears. ~ Neil Z. Yeung