Pop Punk pioneers The Offspring have been rather quiet over the last few years, with their last album coming out way back in 2012. However, there was a time when they, alongside other genre leaders such as Green Day and Blink 182, were one of the biggest bands on the planet. You couldn’t go anywhere in 1999 without hearing ‘Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)’, and even still it, alongside a handful of their other earlier hits, get massive amounts of plays on the likes of Kerrang! and MTV Rocks. The band has sold over 40 million albums in their time, one of the highest of any rock band from the mid-nineties onwards. Fast forward to 2021 and the band has finally released their much anticipated tenth studio album, ‘Let The Bad Times Roll’. I have personally been a fan of this band for as long as I can remember, so I’m excited to finally have some new music by them. Join me in checking it out!
‘This is Not Utopia’ opens on a suitably big power-chord build-up, immediately feeling like old-school Offspring. However, within just a couple of seconds, it drops down a little, getting lighter and leaning more on their Americana influences through the verses. The bell of the cymbals are a particular highlight as it chimes in over the top of the sporadic guitar chords. Dexter’s voice threw me off a little at first; it’s definitely changed over the years. Then again, it’s hard to keep up his punk shouting well into his 50s, so to still sound as good as he does. Even if he does sound older, is a testament to his talents. It all builds towards the huge choruses, the vocal lines being massively catchy and melodic over the top of the HUGE instrumentation. It’s still arena-filling punk rock all these years later and just goes to show why they are still towards the top of the rock world today.
Next up is the lead single of the album and its title track. Opening straight into one of the catchiest choruses they’ve ever written is always going to stand them in good stead, again leaning into their Americana sounds, lots of percussion songs behind a simple guitar riff and the vocals. The verse is just as catchy, building up more and more throughout, even with the dropped-down pre. However, that is my only slight issue with this song. It builds up and builds up perfectly, and then everything drops out again for the chorus. It’s an awesome chorus, as I’ve said, but it feels like the build-up is wasted. Add some heavy guitars in the back for all but the first one and it could have been even more incredible. I do have to say though, to drag it back to the positives, I personally loved the lyrics for this song. Sure, they were juvenile, but just about everyone has had days like this in their lives, and it has definitely been how I’ve felt before. There isn’t much to this song, a slight bridge after the second chorus before it goes straight into a final one again. Still, it’s enough to easily make my playlist! It does do the cardinal sin of fading out, but it wasn’t enough to change my mind.
‘Behind Your Walls’ opens on a nice, slow guitar riff before it drops into the popular pop-punk trope of palm-muted guitar power chords with quiet vocals over the top. Still, it sounds awesome and I love it. A little off-topic, but these days Dexter’s low vocals are starting to sound more and more like Andy Biersack’s. It again builds up nicely into a massive chorus; not quite as catchy as the previous two but it still sounds huge. The song feels a little odd in terms of its structure, it never dropping down again, staying around the same sort of level as the first chorus throughout. There isn’t much to write home about with it either; it’s simply a damn good, straightforward punk song.
‘Army of One’ picks up the pace and heaviness nicely, a huge drumbeat opening this one up with some great guitars coming in over the top. It heads straight into the chorus from here, again one of the better ones the band has ever done, catchy and easy to sing along to live. The backing vocals adding multiple layers to it is a great touch, too. The verse is a little weak, just kind of being there so they had something to play around the awesome chorus. The riffs from Noodles here are some of the best on the album so far, though. The chorus alone nearly made me put it in the playlist, but everything else around it was just a tad too weak.
‘Breaking These Bones’ opens on an even better drumbeat than the last one; fast and heavy. The guitars are built in slowly over the top until it eventually bursts into a great punk rock riff. It stays pretty heavy through the verse, the guitars and bass only playing between the vocal lines through most of it, another great pop-punk trope. The chorus is the least massive one on the album so far, feeling straight-up punk instead of anthemic. It actually reminds me a lot of one of their older songs, ‘Can’t Repeat’. We even get a slight guitar solo in this one. Sure, it is mostly made up of the same note bent over and over, but it’s better than nothing! It then launches into a final chorus and heavy outro riff to finish. A fantastic, short, straight-to-the-point rock song that didn’t overstay its welcome at all. Especially impressive that it accomplishes all of that in under three minutes!
Next up is a weird one as it was released way back in 2015 as the album’s first single, it has just taken this long to actually get the thing finished and released. Because of this, ‘Coming For You’ already had over 35k streams on Spotify alone while others on the album are still below 1000 (as of the album’s release). Therefore fans of the band, myself included, are pretty familiar with the song already, so it feels weird analysing it so deeply. Still though, it opens on a pretty funky drum and bassline that is built into a great verse. The backing vocals through the verses again add some great added depth to it and are all very catchy. The chorus is equally catchy, and the guitar solo that generally follows the same melody that the vocals did was a great touch. This song is awesome from start to finish, it sounds like it would have easily sat comfortably with some of the band’s hits from back in the mid-90s, a very impressive feat. It’s enjoyable and very catchy and, since it was technically released this year again, made the playlist.
Next up is the most recent single from the album, ‘We Never Have Sex Anymore’. Opening much like the previous song but leaning heavily into their Latin side as an amazing guitar riff comes in, accompanied by an AMAZING trumpet melody. As I have said before in previous reviews, I adore the use of horns in rock music, they add such a great bounce and specific energy to everything that you can’t get without them, and they have been used so well and sparingly that I honestly can’t think of a time it has been done badly. This is no exception; I already love this song. Said horns come back in the chorus, adding even more catchiness and greatness to it all. The lyrics are again pretty juvenile but are pretty well written and are damn enjoyable. We get a horn solo followed by a horn and guitar harmonised solo midway through and it adds so much awesomeness to the song I can’t even do it justice in writing. Why aren’t more rock bands incorporating ska elements anymore? My favourite song on the album by quite a margin, and I think it’s up there among my favourite songs of the year. Playlisted.
After a short, minute-long instrumental track that Alton Towers should definitely be using from now on, we get the next proper track, ‘The Opioid Diaries’. It opens almost straight into a fast verse before soon reaching another huge, catchy chorus. It’s a good song but there isn’t much I can say about it that I haven’t already said about previous songs. It’s a pretty straightforward punk rock song and definitely has its place on the album, but it feels a little more like filler than the other songs on the album up until this point. The same could be said for the following song, ‘Hassan Chop’. It’s maybe the silliest track on the album and also the closest to old-school punk; simple, fast music full of attitude and crazy lyrics. Again, it’s a good song but feels a little meh compared to a lot of the rest of the album.
The final official track from the album is a piano/string version of their 1997 single, ‘Gone Away’. One of my favourite songs by the band, it is made even more beautiful in this rendition, the instrumentation adding even more weight to the perfect vocals and lyrics. It does feel a little like it is trying to one-up Five Finger Death Punch’s cover of it from a few years ago, but in that respect it very much does. This is my new favourite version of this song. So much so that it also ended up on the playlist.
Overall: there was a hell of a lot to like from this album. A massive improvement on the last album (honestly California Cruising can go to hell), there were a few songs here that I would put up amongst the band’s best. Sure, there were a couple of filler tracks on here and an argument could be made that the ‘Gone Away’ re-release was a little unnecessary. However, considering this is their best album in easily 13 years, if not more, as well as giving us a few legitimately awesome songs, you can let them off for putting a couple of not-perfect songs on there. It was just a damn good pop-punk record, and a return to form for a fantastic band.
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