Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace
16 June 2008
by Mischa Pearlman
The Offspring are nothing if not reliable. Any new album is guaranteed to sound, well, quite a bit like the ones that came before. But then why not? They’ve found a formula that works, that’s sold millions of records and which, when it works properly, has been responsible for some really great songs.
Admittedly, things started to go downhill slightly with Americana – which had some sublime moments but seemed to pander a little to obviously to the MTV market – and the band lost much of the relevance and status that they’d once held.
Perhaps titled in acknowledgement of this fact, their new album is a simmering return to form. It still sounds like The Offspring, but it’s full of subtle nuances that make these much more than throwaway pop-punk – the songs are more nuanced and varied, their structure more intricate and developed and their lyrical themes perhaps darker than ever before.
‘Kristy, Are You Doing Okay?’ is a slow, mainly acoustic tribute to a girl who was sexually abused as a child. It’s neither trite nor over-sentimental, just fucking sad.
The whole thing isn’t overly sincere though. ‘Nothingtown’ is a more bouncy number detailing the boredom that comes from living in a small, picket-fenced American town, while the almost ska-esque ‘Let’s Hear It For Rock Bottom’ sounds like latter day No Fun At All, full of energy and emotion.
Watch the video to ‘Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) by The Offspring
‘A Lot Like Me’ almost takes on the epic charge of recent AFI (or, dare the comparison be made, even Aiden’s last album), burning slowly and synthetically before exploding in a tense burst of self-loathing – the perfect embodiment of the rage and grace in the album’s title.
It may not have the raw edge of Smash or the full-force, all out singalong frenzy of Ixnay On The Hombre, but Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace is the sound of a band who have found themselves again and got rid of the gimmicks that made a mockery of their last few years of existence.
Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace by The Offspring is out now on Sony BMG