So here come the Offspring once again, with their ninth studio album. How much have they changed since the previous effort? How much (more) have they “sold out?" How many good, mediocre and terrible songs do we have now? OK, OK, one question at a time please.
Nothing much has changed, anyway. Sure, “Cruising California” is probably their worst song ever (“OC Guns” being possibly the second), but we know they have always chosen bad songs as singles, ever since “Come Out and Play” (which I enjoy, but which certainly isn't the best one on Smash). Besides those two “songs,” the rest is more or less their typical post-Ixnay melodycore.
First track “The Future is Now” sets things clear: epic-melancolic guitar intro, first verse with bass and drums, second verse with palm muted guitar, super catchy chorus with the right dose of who-ooas. Sounds familiar? Also, nice and somewhat typical dark lyrics with a Dead Kennedys quote. “Secrets From the Underground” follows the same pattern, while the title track has a clear Foo Fighters influence. “Turning Into You” sounds a lot like “Ready to Fall” by Rise Against, with its fast and light verse and mid-tempo and heavy chorus. “Hurting as One” is the first of the two fast songs of the record, and the who-ooas remind me a lot of “Something to Believe In,” which certainly isn't a bad feeling. “All I Have Left is You” is the new “Fix You” (two of the only three Offspring songs, according to Google and myself, which feature the word “intertwined”).
The new version of "Dirty Magic" is just a little overproduced maybe (which made me smile when I thought of the “it's oversimplified” part), but still a good rendition. I like the pounding drums and the slight change in the flow of the lyrics in the chorus. And speaking of drums, while he's not Brooks Wackerman, Pete Parada does a good job on the album, and revives the band's sound a little.
“I Wanna Secret Family” and album ender “Slim Pickens Does the Right Thing and Rides the Bomb to Hell” are solid and punchy, while “Dividing by Zero,” super-fast and melodic, might be my favorite. And, yes, it does sound a little like “Take It Like a Man.” Couldn't ask for much more from the 2012 version of this band.
All in all a solid effort I'd say, despite the lack of fast songs. Again, it's 2012, these guys are old and always on the brink of completely screwing things up, could we really expect much more?