When it comes to those bands who punk followers should be bowing down to, The Offspring leap off the page. They paved roads in the '90s for the movement to walk through and it's been a great ride listening to them do it along the way. While their self-titled (1989) and Ignition in 1992 were earmarked as the records that made The Offspring who they were, to me it's Smash that best represents the right amount of old-school punk, new-rock subversion and tinkering with various other genres which really made their formative identity whole and totally standout. Dookie showed 1994 just how the underground could go mainstream and shock the world, and more so, punk fans as well as cynics. However, Smash also joined in and added much more flair to the scene that may have been confused, angry or exploited by its success but nonetheless, for its commercial worth, you simply couldn't dispute how legendary this album was, and still is, in the rich history of punk. This album to me is the biggest draw in the holster of The Offspring's legacy and in the annals of rock music -- and music, in general. It's not just a great rock album but it's a masterpiece in the lore of music,
Dexter Holland's best narrative came on this album to me. The next time I really felt waves of this was on Americana in 1998 because songs like "Have You Ever" and "The Kids Aren't Alright" felt like they were made for Smash. The band on the whole really combined their best outlays of hardcore-punk, skate-punk, alternative-punk and other little sub-genres to really crack a hole in your speakers. "Nitro (Youth Energy)" is pretty self-explanatory as it's relentless and surely what bands like After The Fall, Jaguar Shark and the now-defunct Bathurst plastered on their walls. It was one of those drilling sounds that had commercial labels running down NOFX, Bad Religion and Pennywise also because it showed that there was a potential fire sale on punk and 1994 was cash-in time. Not all cashed in but again, unadulterated punk becoming such a brand and also globally recognized was sure to polarize views, given that Europe and Oceania were biting as well at how the scene developed. "Bad Habit" felt like this kick in the teeth as it was a song that packed power and grit yet was one of the tunes that funneled the band away from sweaty clubs into bigger arenas and of course, more MTV airtime. However, their sound wouldn't dilute or show wear and tear for a couple of years, so haters couldn't hate as much and fans were offered much more peacetime in terms of relief as they kept getting great music.
Holland remained assertive, political and personal. Noodles' riffage and and Greg K's fucking thunderous bass spoke volumes. They all joined in with the usual wealth of 'whoas' and 'heys' over Ron Welty's smacking drums as if to stick a middle finger to those who ignored them or to those who wrongfully criticized them. This really did come off as their biggest statement, reinforcing every tenet of The Offspring. It felt like the very fabric of the band was ingrained into you. "Gotta Get Away" and "Genocide" told these stories brilliantly. "Something To Believe In" was an anthem for you and your friends to mosh to with fists raised and a reason to go to school with a mohawk, say "fuck you" to the principal and head home. It was anti-establishment without trying too hard, or at all. At times, they were heavy, even crossing over a tad with grunge, and then at others, they were so coy and tongue-in-cheek a la "Self Esteem."
Let's take a moment to recognize those friends who suffered from this whippage and who still do -- and whom you think of when you hear this track.
Whew. We're good? Cool. Let's proceed.
These made them all the more listenable. Expectations were blown away and touring heavily really paid dividends, in ways I'm sure shocked the band beyond belief. To temper dark, edgy punk with pop-punk so well, really proved a highly commendable feat. To make it connective was an even bigger accomplishment but one they pulled off so smoothly and with such sass. "Come Out and Play" featured a Middle Eastern-influenced guitar riff while touching on violence in schools and gangs while crossing over to another realm of the band's diversity, in the ska-driven vehicle "What Happened To You" -- further enhancing how all-round they were.
Their sound may well be considered fabled given that few could replicate what to do. It was a symbol. The motifs of the album: death, greed, suicide, violence, addiction and abuse -- were all things we needed to focus on and Holland caught the music industry's attention very well. It was a hard-rock album as well as many other enthusiasts latched on and still do to the momentum of Smash. It feels like the most complete of their arsenal because they seemed to be in the right place and right time of their lives -- balanced and dedicated -- while unfurling their flag however they saw fit and with no one to really rein them in. That kind of freedom is priceless and if you wanna debate that, pop this record in. Let its music cure you. Blistering. Intense. It smashes your fucking brains in. Beautifully.