Yeah, dance fucker dance!
Let's face it The Offspring are a big band, and most people will be able to name a few of their songs, whether it's the straight up Punk Rock feel of 'Self-Esteem' or 'Come Out And Play' from the band's huge selling, 'Smash' album (which remains the highest selling album of all time on an independent label), or the Pop crossover tracks of 'Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)' from the album 'America', and 'Original Prankster' from . Aside from these there was my personal favourite album, 'Ixnay On The Hombre', and the most recent 'Splinter'. What is clear is that The Offspring, whilst showing flashes of experimentation, for the most part stick to a successful formula in a good handful of fast Skater Punk Rock songs that have high tempo drums, feverous guitars and Dexter Holland's signature voice, that shows no letting up in it's strength with the high notes over the years as he gets older.
So it would be a shame if they changed the formula totally and did “...a Blink 182...”, and whilst guitarist Noodles did joke recently that singer Dexter was getting close to “...doing an Axl Rose..” with his obsession of total song perfection, ultimately the album is a more mature sounding Offspring album. There is no doubt as to who you are listening to, and right from the first few seconds of first song, 'Half Truism' as the guitars and vocals kick in, you could quite easily be listening to a song from one of their earlier albums, however the full rock chorus does give them an anthem feel with the tempo slowing down leaving plenty of room for fists to punch the air.
Things carry on in' Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace' with an almost classic Offspring of the band's first 3 albums and a twist of the new direction or style flirtation here and there. 'Trust In You' could have been on 'Ixnay...', whereas on 'You're Gonna Go Far Kid' Dexter sings, "Dance, fucker dance" in what you would consider high tempo for other bands, but mid tempo for The Offspring. Next we have the first single, 'Hammerhead' which is a little like Offspring covering a band like Motorhead but with added harmonies. No, really and yes it is a good thing.
'A Lot Like Me' sounds like one of those songs that Noodles was on about as it starts off gentle and thoughtful asking, "How does it feel?" before a bridge gets our pulse racing for the chorus. This takes us to, 'Takes Me Nowhere' that is a little like the Clash with the simple structure that is catchy and memorable. Then 'Kristy, Are You Doing Okay?' is a semi-acoustic-cum-electric slice of fantastic that is two-parts Green Day and one part Offspring, in an almost mid-tempo ballad kind of way. It's certainly one of the best songs on the album.
'Nothingtown' is what The Offspring would've sounded like if they were a Rock'n'Roll band, and although the chorus is a bit more punky, the verses could be slowed down and are only missing a few 'Doo-Wops', a pair of winkle-pickers and a bryl-creamed barnet to get you drinking milkshake at the local diner. This then takes us to a song that I can't make my mind up whether I love or hate. For a start the verse is semi-talked/sung, and the chorus has Dexter eloquently suggesting that 'Shit is fucked up!", so whilst the band are creating songs that have a bit more depth, we then have this, er, song, which I’m sure the band will suggest that it shows that they still like to mess around and show an immature side. Nothing wrong with that Poo-head...
Just like, 'A Lot Like Me', 'Fix You' is another slow and gentle melodic song that has all of the thought that the previous song lacked. It's a gem of a song that you couldn't have known that the band had in them. 'Let's Hear It For Rock Bottom' builds up into a good solid song, before the album closer, 'Rise And Fall' that is a great hard rocking number to finish on.
The Offspring have played in excess of 1000 shows, and have sold over 34 million albums so there is no doubt that they have a strong fan base and are good at what they do. 'Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace' was produced by Bob Rock who knob-twiddled for the likes of Motley Crue and Metallica, and whilst the added synthesizers of 'Splinter' failed to impress me and ultimately left me slightly disappointed, I think we have here an album that sits nicely between the first 3 albums and the slightly more commercial mix-mash of latter albums, ‘Conspiracy Of One’ and ‘Splinter’. Overall I am impressed with possibly the bands best album for 10 years.