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The Offspring [Album]

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Monday, 16 June 2008

There reaches a point when all the semantics, wordplay and pontificating fall away—when years of frustration are finally relieved. This is one of those moments. To be as blunt as the situation requires, it’s about fucking time The Offspring smashed its head into punk rock again. In the last eleven years, the band has chased its Dickies-inspired muse and released a succession of very novel records that were sweet, cutesy and poppy, and each yielded a couple of (easily dated and forgettable) singles that were passably okay, but not much else. They spent three albums losing steam or misfiring completely; it was perfectly reasonable for fans to assume that the game was over and, like so many SoCal punk bands over the last thirty years, The Offspring were content to run out the clock cracking jokes until they vanish completely.

Simply put, The Offspring were down—they had become disposable and, most thought, beaten—but as Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace kicks over, they prove they aren’t out.

The band’s new album has all the marks of their classic sound, and from Noodles’ initial guitar assault in “Half-Truism,” The Offspring sound their return to the gimmick-free punk that fans have been waiting for since Ixnay On The Hombre to hear. At the same time, there are a lot of similarities between Rise And Fall and both Americana and Conspiracy Of One—each of the three bears a very obvious timestamp when it comes to lyrical content, but this time the band wears it a lot better. The difference is that while Americana and Conspiracy leaned heavily on those novel aspects laced through the lyrics and song structures, thus shortening their life spans, Rise And Fall relegates those little bits of sonic gimmickry that do appear to being simply short hooks and sonic punctuations. The album chooses instead to once again look at the punk rock politics of the ignored (which include the kids on the street that have always lurked in Offspring songs, as well as soldiers and those suffering in the fallout of the fading Bush Administration) with empathy and understanding rather than coyly uttering one-liners in those groups’ defenses.

Songs like “Half-Truism,” ”Trust In You,” “Hammerhead” and “Takes Me Nowhere” all reverberate with the band’s vintage acidic spirit except that now, twenty-five years after they started, the band plays with the battlefield command of punks that have seen the fads come and go, weathered the storms and come out stronger for it; in Dexter Holland’s voice, there lies the ‘take no shit’ bite that feels like the epitome of authoritative—he’s been around the block and learned a few things along the way so his confidence is stronger here than it has been in years. Because of all of that, the moments of stylistic reaching like the shockingly sweet power balladry of “Fix You,” the very Green Day-ish “Nothingtown” and the less-novel-than-”What In The World Happened To You” ska of “Let’s Hear It For Rock Bottom” show that the band hasn’t purged the urge to grow yet, but it doesn’t feel like a sales tool in this context; it just feels like a band taking something new for a spin.

For fear of sounding melodramatic, Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace is the album that long-time fans hoped The Offspring still had in them. It was a stupidly long time in coming but, this time out, the band finally proves that they remember the way to the skate park and still know how to make a trick stick. It isn’t without its flaws, but this album bears the promise that, even if they aren’t there yet, The Offspring are on their way.

More Info:

www.offspring.com
myspace.com/offspring

Album:

The Offspring – Rise and Fall , Rage and GraceBuy it NOW on Amazon.

Download:

"Hammerhead" from Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace – [mp3]

 

 

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