Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Offspring "Days Go By"

The Offspring have always made it a point to be trendy. They always release music that seems to be reminiscent of the music that is being released around the time of each new album, but with an uncanny Offspring touch that no one can quite match. This has been the case since their fourth album, 1997’s Ixnay on the Hombre, which was a pop-punk album released in the beginning of the pop-punk movement. The band hasn’t really truly trailed in to their own adventurous territory since then. That is up until last June with the release of their ninth album, 2012’s Days Go By.

With this album, Offspring have done something most bands say they try to do but fail miserably at, and that is looking back at their early albums and making songs that sound like those songs. Just listen to Our Lady Peace’s Clumsy and then their latest album Curve and you’ll discover how when bands usually set out to find their early sound, they just can’t. The Offspring, however, succeed flawlessly with most tracks off of this album, while still including some mid-career Offspring influence in other tracks. Most of this album sounds like it could have been written for the bands second album, 1992’s Ignition.

That brings us to the first track off of the album, The Future Is Now; a typical Offspring fast paced maybe punk/maybe rock song (depends on who you ask). The lyrics, just like so many lyrics off of the album, show a superb amount of maturity in Bryan “Dexter” Holland’s life (it should also be noted that his voice, as per usual, sounds excellent). The best part of the song, which would never have been heard in the early days, is the bridge, which has an almost apocalyptic piano playing in the background. The song immediately leads in to the second track, Secrets From the Underground, which is very similar to the previous track in many ways, except it’s maybe a little bit faster. Both tracks are excellent openers, probably the best opening tracks off of any Offspring album. The other song off of the album that has similar descriptions is Turning Into You, though this track is slightly heavier.

The bands previous album, 2008’s Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace brought the band back in to rock relevance and was a MAJOR leap forward for the band. However, there are quite a few songs off of the album that sounded like they could have been by other bands. Without naming out any songs, the band seemed to really have a band or two in mind when writing a few of the songs on that album. Days Go By does have one song (but only one song) that is a little too similar to a current popular recording band. That song is the albums lead single and title track, Days Go By (if you heard the song in its original live format, it sounded even more like the recording artist that I will not name). The song stands out by being one of the more upbeat songs the band has ever recorded, with very inspiring lyrics about not giving up when life gets you down.

If any guitar player has ever tried to play Offspring songs, they’ve probably realized that lead guitarist Noodles likes to recycle previously used riffs, usually by successfully incorporating them in to a different styled song. In this case, the song Hurting As One starts off with a riff that should sound very familiar to long time Offspring fans, a riff that sounds very similar to that of which Noodles played during the bridge of the huge 1997 hit Gone Away, only that song was a very serious, heartfelt almost ballad. This track is probably the second fastest paced song off of the album. It seems Noodles wanted to test out the riff on a faster song. The result is an excellent one and provides a track that the band opened many of their live sets with in supporting this album.

A major improvement in the bands maturity over the past two albums is the lack of silly songs. Between Ixnay on the Hombre and 2003’s Splinter, the band released a number of rather silly songs to maintain a free-feeling on their albums. Some of these songs were to satirize modern hits, such as 1998’s Pretty Fly (For A White Guy), and some were just to stand out and maintain a very punky “I’ll do what I want to do” message, such as 2003’a Worst Hangover Ever. This album does have only two rather silly songs (which is an improvement from 2000’s Conspiracy of One and 2003’s Splinter, both having four songs each of this nature). On this album, the tracks Cruising California (Bumpin’ In My Trunk) and OC Guns fall under this category. The former being of the satirical nature of having fun with songs by current popular artists such as Katy Perry, the latter being practically a rap song sung mostly in Spanish. There is a third track on the album, I Wanna Secret Family (With You) that has some humorous lyrics, but in this song it’s delivered in a more hard rock tone, putting aggression where the humour would otherwise be.

The Offspring have some very fine ballads and slower songs in their catalogue. The list includes such songs as the previously mentioned classic Gone Away, 2000’s Denial, Revisited, as well as 2008’s Kristy, Are You Doing Okay? and Fix You. This albums ballad, All I Have Left Is You is probably the best of all Offspring’s ballads. Lyrically they have done slightly better, but musically, they never sounded so passionate about what they are playing. A major reason would have to be Dexter’s singing.

To further my previous example that most of these songs could have been written back when the band made Ignition, the band provided a treat for fans of that album in the form of re-recording the best track off of Ignition, Dirty Magic. This time around the track has a much more full sound, with a lot more guitars, harmonized and slightly re-worked vocals, as well as a bit of a slower tempo. Frankly the original version of the song is better, but it is terrific seeing the band encourage an era they don’t seem to acknowledge nearly enough.

The album ends off on two strong points; first being the track Dividing By Zero, which sounds in every way like it could have been off of the bands forgotten 1989 Self-Titled Debut, specifically with its intro, which sounds like their track Tehran. It is the fastest paced song off of the album, and the most “punk” the band has sounded since their 1994 breakthrough Smash. The albums last track, Slim Pickens Does The Right Thing And Rides The Bomb To Hell, is the best off of the album, based on speaking to many fans of the band and the album, and closes off one of, if not the best work by The Offspring.

It’s hard to say if this would be a good album for first time listeners to pick up. It’s hard to pin point any album because the band frankly has never really released the same album twice. That note aside, the band has always hidden their more serious sounding songs in between songs that attempt to be radio-friendly. (I’d strongly recommend 1997’s Amazed or 2003’s Race Against Myself, both two of the bands greatest and strongest songs, yet two of the most forgotten) This album, for once, is made up of mostly songs of a strong nature, and makes for one of the best Offspring albums to be listened to from beginning to end. There may always be a debate on whether the band is “punk” or just “rock”, but what matters is that they will always be The Offspring.


Slim Pickens Does The Right Thing And Rides The Bomb To Hell” – As previously mentioned, more than a handful of people have told me that this is the best song off of the album. When playing it to people for the first time, I typically notice that halfway through the first verse, yes that early in, people immediately get struck by the song. That alone makes this the album highlight. It mixes good hard music with superbly well sung melodies and has the ability to get a crowd chanting along with its chorus.



9 (Out of 10)


Track List:

"The Future Is Now"  
"Secrets from the Underground"  
"Days Go By"  
"Turning Into You"  
"Hurting as One"  
"Cruising California (Bumpin' in My Trunk)"  
"All I Have Left Is You"  
"OC Guns"  
"Dirty Magic"  
"I Wanna Secret Family (With You)"  
"Dividing by Zero"  
"Slim Pickens Does the Right Thing and Rides the Bomb to Hell"  


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