The Offspring – ‘Let The Bad Times Roll’

By Louis Kerry

Just in time for the summer, punk rock veterans The Offspring return with their near decade long overdue tenth album ‘Let The Bad Times Roll’. The most chilled out band in California may be older, but they still know how to crank out cathartic melodies with a slashing of good humour when they feel like it.

Rather than resting on their laurels and living out the rest of their careers as a nostalgia act, as easy as it could have been for them, the gang have regrouped with super producer Bob Rock and signed to a new label to create a back to basics approach, with some unexpected curve balls thrown in for better or worse (let’s also try and forget last year’s Tiger King cover). Leading the band as always, Frontman Dexter Holland and guitarist Noodles have overcome an array of personal and legal challenges as well as lineup changes, resulting in a collection of old school thrillers.

Wasting no time, The Offspring transport themselves in time as the title track’s early noughties melodic so-cal vibe could have soundtracked thousands of crash and burn moments on Crazy Taxi and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. ‘Army of One’ also provides a raw, no thrills assault, which goes hand in hand with Holland’s sharp as ever lyrics, snapping each song with equal parts social commentary and his classic warped sense of humour.

Not as self deprecating as Blink-182 or Weezer, and nowhere near as morbid as Alkaline Trio, The Offspring land in slightly darker middle-ground than their Bart Simpson comedy riddled younger selves. The bleakness of ‘The Opioid Diaries’ stands out as the album’s most fleshed out song, even with a mildly simple message of the American crisis and opioid dependency, with critical swipes like “Now we’ve made a nation full of kids on dope. They’re looking down now at the end of their rope.”

Elsewhere, complete with a jazzy bass intro, ‘Never Have Sex Anymore’ marks the band’s obnoxious tendencies but with a matured touch. ‘Coming For You’ features an eighties metal stomp that Bob Rock’s production style is synonymous with, as bass player Todd Morse performs his finest Motley Crue impression. Unfortunately, fans would have heard it for the first six years ago when it was originally released. Why it’s been placed on this album still is anyone’s guess.

Amongst these quick-fire melodic punk anthems is more unnecessary wastage that feel and sound like nothing more than attempts of dragging out what could have been a classic EP into a charlatan’s excuse of a full length album. A random ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’ interlude is a bewildering addition but at least it shows off Noodles guitar chops. Perhaps it’s the band’s idea of being out of the box. Ultimately a pointless piano led rendition of their 1997 fan favourite ‘Gone Away’ and a bizarre lullaby style reprise closes the album on more a whimper than the inspired bang the band were likely gunning for.

Still far away from the heights of Smash (it’s been almost thirty years, get over it), but they can be razor sharp when they want to be; ‘Let The Bad Times Roll’ has the hooks and unforgettable melodies that are synonymous with The Offspring in their prime days and there’s enough of Noodles’ trademark so-cal guitar throttling to whet your appetite for their unadulterated punk rock. It’s just a shame that after so many years, so much more was expected from what is a release half empty with either time wasting or plain laziness. Perhaps they should stick to the nostalgia if this and Joe Exotic tributes are all they’re prepared to offer for another ten years.

LOUIS KERRY

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