ALBUM REVIEW: Let The Bad Times Roll (THE OFFSPRING)
ALBUM Let The Bad Times Roll // ARTIST The Offspring
The world may be ripping apart at the seams, but pop punk veterans The Offspring are here to irreverently soundtrack humanity's ongoing collective slide into the abyss with a buoyant return to some nostalgic rollicking wiles on their impending tenth studio album Let The Bad Times Roll.
Credited with helping reignite mainstream interest in punk rock in the 1990s, California rockers The Offspring have certainly traversed an unholy amount of change and pivotal evolution since originally forming almost four decades ago. But while the societal issues and accompanying sardonic reflection that accompanied the earlier Offspring works may have changed on the peripheral surface, the fact of the matter remains: the world is on fire, but there's fun to be had at its expense, and the group's forthcoming tenth full length Let The Bad Times Roll is a glorious celebration of acerbic punk flung in a modern backdrop - and a significant return to form for the godfathers of 90s punk nearly a decade in the making.
Bustling with all the jovial hallmarks we've all come to associate with planet Offspring, Let The Bad Times Roll kicks off with the short stomping This Is Not Utopia, wielding firm power chords and chant-ready choruses amid a scathing take down of present-day America. It's clear from the get-go that time has not wearied the quartet's penchant for tight riffs, sparkling rhythmics and Dexter Holland's signature vocals, and the track certainly hints at a politically-charged endeavour from its upfront thematics; but contrary to the introductory indications, The Offspring aren't here to preach and moan, and the chaos is well and truly celebrated as we head into title track and lead single Let The Bad Times Roll.
Somewhat ironically conjured prior to COVID taking over the world, Let The Bad Times Roll oscillates between nostalgic clap-happy froth and harder rock waters, aptly complementing the chaotic cheer underpinning Holland's lyrical bounce. And while Let The Bad Times Roll is very nearly a show-stopper with its animated pop and punchy rock, the appearance of a sudden fade-out to close is a jarring end to what would otherwise be a significant highlight on the overall album.
The teeming dusk of Behind The Walls follows next, with snippets of Holland's deeper register on display as the stylistic cheer is dialed back somewhat for more even-keeled fare on this intimate rocker, before the boisterous desert rock-esque shenanigans of Army Of One rolls into town. From bluesy punk (Breaking These Bones), to stomping anthems (Coming For You), jaunty brass sass (We Never Have Sex Anymore) and the palpitating classical segue you never you knew needed (In The Hall of the Mountain King), Let The Bad Times Roll never sits stylistically still as it flexes the core strengths and vibrant palette of a band unafraid to explore and enhance their signature roots. And while the expected hooks, emphatic "heys" and cavalcade of divergent genres continue on throughout the album, the Offspring have been around the traps enough to know when and how to sprinkle their insolent cheer without ever overstaying their welcome.
High school memories of Tony Hawk, angsty romances and boys in baggy pants dredge to the surface as The Opioid Diaries frantically flits between smashing punk and moments of measured calm, before a deep pull from a Bugs Bunny cartoon introduces and underlies the boisterous Hassan Chop. In a dizzying twist, a revisit to a hit track from the the band's 1997 album Ixnay on the Hombre (aka Gone Away Requiem) up next immediately sheds the throbbing mayhem of Hassan Chop, offering a glistening haven of pianos, sweeping synths and soaring clean vocals that will tug ever-so-slightly at the heartstrings before the warbly slow snippet that is Lullaby fades into the distance as Holland repeats the album's title phrase over and over.
While initially presenting as a sharp and satirical commentary on the state of the world around us in a brand new decade, perhaps the most surprising reality of The Offspring's Let The Bad Times Roll is the fact that the band have managed to retain lashings of their youthful jocularity alongside more measured and matured moments, allowing their genuine musicianship to shine without alienating fans of the boyish days gone by. The Offspring may, for many, readily be associated with the sarcastic riffs on pop culture and the very mainstream they inevitably would go on to shape, but its undeniable that this quartet not only know how to craft a song like nobody's business; they also know how to soundtrack and reflect every stage of our collective descent into madness - and misery has never sounded so good.
THE OFFSPRING'S TENTH STUDIO ALBUM LET THE BAD TIMES ROLL IS DUE OUT THIS FRIDAY 16TH APRIL VIA CONCORD RECORDS. FOR MORE INFO, HEAD HERE.
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LET THE BAD TIMES ROLL TRACK LISTING:
01. This Is Not Utopia
02. Let The Bad Times Roll
03. Behind Your Walls
04. Army of One
05. Breaking These Bones
06. Coming For You
07. We Never Have Sex Anymore
08. In The Hall of the Mountain King
09. The Opioid Diaries
10. Hassan Chop
11. Gone Away
BY TIANA SPETER