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The Offspring - Let The Bad Times Roll (Album Review)

Friday, 23 April 2021 Written by Simon Ramsay

Photo: Daveed Benito

What kind of self-respecting punk band takes nine years to make a new album? Were they bereft of motivation? Suffering from creative impotence? Struggling to get back to their best after a run of patchy efforts? Thankfully, such questions concerning this long overdue return from The Offspring are well answered on a comeback that delivers exactly what we want from these pretty fly, now middle-aged, white guys.

Laboured over in fits and starts with producer Bob Rock, while dealing with the acrimonious departure of original bassist Greg K, some pesky label issues and the release’s inevitable delay thanks to the pandemic, is it any wonder we feared ‘Let The Bad Times Roll’ might be an unintentionally appropriate title for a record that threatened to be overthought, overcooked and lacking commitment?

As soon as the American dream-mourning This Is Not Utopia blazes forth, all such concerns are drop-kicked into a deep pit marked ‘misplaced doubt.’ Mainlining intensity, focus, passion and purpose, Dexter Holland, Noodles, Pete Parada and new bassist Todd Morse sound ravenous as they attack each cut.

With their lean, punchy attack, these irrepressibly tuneful anthems stamp the refined, arena-crushing hooks of ‘Ixnay on the Hombre’ and ‘Americana’ onto ripping guitar work and throttle-stuck-in-overdrive rhythms that recall their 1994 masterpiece ‘Smash.’ And, although inspired by the socio-political turmoil of the last decade, a palpable ‘we’re all in this together’ spirit provides a rousing spark that truly ignites this uplifting inferno.  

Army of One takes off like a nuclear-powered rocket as Noodles shreds Dick Dale-style. Bleak yet stirring, Behind Your Walls is a Russian doll of empathetic powerhouse refrains that are so contagious we recommend listening with your face mask on, and the Green Day-esque Coming For You, with backing vocals exploding like confetti grenades and its boisterous swagger, knocks out a chorus that’s so likely to get your fist pumping in the air, you’d best open your sunroof if listening in the car.

Elsewhere, ‘fuck it all’ gallows humour peppers a title track that shimmies and shakes its way to the kind of classic, So-Cal sing-along that epitomises this band’s knack for crafting endlessly entertaining pop refrains that just about stay on the right side of irritating.  Talking of which, it wouldn’t be The Offspring without a lil’ cheekiness and charm. We Don’t Have Sex Anymore swings like a prohibition-era big band romp as it details a married couple’s slide into unintentional celibacy. You’ll love it so much that you’ll probably hate yourself for doing so.

It’s just a shame things go slightly awry in the record’s final third. The Opioid Diaries and Hassan Chop aren’t quite as potent as what’s preceded them and, although beautifully reworked, the piano rendition of Gone Away doesn’t belong here. Factor in two short, pointless instrumental tracks and you’re left with only eight new songs. That’s fewer than one a year since their previous release. Is that really enough after such a long wait?  

But ‘Let The Bad Times Roll’ is mostly successful because, although delivering nothing particularly original, it thankfully sidesteps previous, misplaced excursions into rap and reggae territory and is basically just The Offspring being The Offspring. All things considered, that’s more than good enough after the kind of protracted hiatus that, on this form, we hope they won’t repeat.

The Offspring Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sun November 21 2021 - DUBLIN 3Arena
Tue November 23 2021 - CARDIFF Motorpoint Arena Cardiff
Wed November 24 2021 - BIRMINGHAM Resorts World Arena
Fri November 26 2021 - LONDON SSE Arena Wembley
Sat November 27 2021 - GLASGOW SSE Hydro
Mon November 29 2021 - MANCHESTER AO Arena
Tue November 30 2021 - LEEDS first direct Arena

Compare & Buy The Offspring Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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