Rancid – ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’

By Katherine Allvey

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Rancid were a spent force. After ten studio albums, thirty two years in the music industry, an age-inappropriate marriage and occasional dodgy British accents, their last three albums have been disappointing to say the least. However, whatever they’ve been eating for breakfast since their last release has been refuelling their engines because this is an absolutely stunning renaissance from the OG SoCal punk legends. 

Title track ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’ is two and a half minutes of rocket powered glory, misleading in its simplicity between an intense burst of distorted guitar and that classic Matt Freeman independent bass. Most astoundingly is that vocalist Tim Armstrong and guitarist Lars Frederiksen seem to have regained their singing voices which had got lost along the way in the last few years; Frederiksen’s rock-gargling tones have reverted back to the purity of the late nineties and Armstrong is no longer mumbling like that guy you hear in Wetherspoons at 10am. ‘Don’t Make Me Do It’ is a blow to the head via the ears and easily the fastest and trashiest tune in their current roster, and ‘Devil in Disguise’, despite being a throwback to Rancid’s passive aggressive moralising present in older songs like ‘Fall Back Down’, is a rhyming singalong with that sunburst guitar that opens the clouds.

Many of the songs are painfully short on this release, but it’s a deliberate tactic. Armstrong and co have gone back to the formula of their first two albums of very quick bursts of rage, like contained explosions and this works for them. Take ‘Live Forever’, probably the most quintessentially Rancid track on the album. It’s one minute twenty two seconds of euphoric nihilism, a monologue apparently about a day in the life of a band on tour, with the occasional incomprehensible lyric (“Kiss the boogieman” for instance) and this sheer spirit of moving forward and giving yourself over to the craziness of the world.  

‘Prisoners Song’ deserves an entire book on its own. Three of the four members take a verse each, with Armstrong’s a love song, Frederiksen’s a celebration of standing up strong and Freeman’s an ode to the power of union membership. “Stop and pray for a while before everything goes wrong,” sings Armstrong in a melodic moment that send your soul back to the innocent and shining days of the early noughties. The attempts at innovating Rancid’s sound have not worked but the band seem to be rejoicing in their roots, the street punk graffiti urges that drove them as young men. ‘Eddie The Butcher’ has a full on Freeman bass noodling intro and that speaker effect on the spoken parts which popped up regularly on ‘…And Out Come The Wolves’, signaling to the world that the band are back on track and have reclaimed their identity. “We’ve got to stick together regardless, we’ve got to do what we think is right, hear our out…,” begs Armstrong on ‘Hear Us Out’, perhaps hoping for forgiveness from the fans after some of their more experimental songs over the years. 

If you’ve been keeping the flame of hope alive that Rancid still have another brilliant album in them, and that long-awaited run of UK tour dates will be as good as the mists of nostalgia will have you believe, then your faith was justified. While their contemporaries like Green Day have turned into bloated stadium rock, Rancid has returned to the formula that made them a genre and era defining band and we’re the richer for it. Let the chords of ‘Road To Righteousness’ ring out and that thundering rhythm section beat the cynics into submission, Rancid are back with a vengeance. 


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