Pop-punk has gotten a bad name throughout the last decade as many of the bands within that genre have flooded MTV and the airwaves. However, the Descendents represent to me what pop-punk should sound like. As one of the most influential bands of all time, I find it hard-pressed to find a Descendents song that is lacking in quality and substance...except, perhaps, the notorious "Orgofart" from Enjoy!.
All would be the last Descendents album before their nearly decade-long hiatus (although you could argue that they technically did not go on a hiatus, since All is essentially the same band, just with a different singer). It was the followup to Enjoy!, an album that received just an average review from this site late last year. While I personally think that Enjoy! was one of their best efforts, many at the time of the release were unhappy with it, and when the Descendents wrote All, it appears the band recognized that.
This album is unique in a number of ways, the most obvious being that it was the first with Karl Alvarez on bass and Stephen Egerton on guitar, both of whom wrote a significant amount of songs on this record. The musicianship on this album is far superior to previous efforts, and several songs boast relatively elaborate and unique lead guitar parts.
This album is also the Descendents' most mature effort to date, as the subject matter is more serious and dark, with the exception of "Van" and "All-O-Gistics." The Descendents have also slowed it down a bit on this record; you don't hear any songs in the likes of "Kids" or any of the material on Milo Goes to College.
The album starts out with a bang, with Milo yelling out "ALL" and Bill Stevenson leading with a frantic drum intro into "Coolidge," a song that is truly classic Descendents: Lighthearted, catchy, mid-tempo pop-punk.
This is followed by "No, All!" (if you want to know the meaning behind ALL, check out their website, I don't feel like explaining it right now) and "Van," one of the few ridiculous songs on the record. Egerton's guitar contribution to this song is brilliant, and the lyrics are silly but hilarious ("Here in my van, I can beat my small cock and fart on your face"). This song will make you want to move out of your apartment (or, if you're like a lot of the people who post here, your mom's basement) and into a shitty van, where you can achieve ALL and live life to the fullest.
From here on out, the record becomes more serious, with songs such as "Impressions," "Iceman," and the CD-only track "Jealous of the World." These tracks take a while to grow on you, and are quite different from the traditional Descendents songs, slower and possibly a bit depressing.
But almost in an effort to remind us that they still know how to have fun and write bizarre, goofy songs, the song "All-O-Gistics" comes on, with instructions on how to achieve ALL, which include "Thou shalt not commit laundry" and "He who bears the most gas, let him also bear forth his ass." Some will find this song so stupid that they can't listen to it, but if you have that kind of attitude, then you shouldn't be listening to this band in the first place. The Descendents then wrap up the album with another darker song in "Schizophrenia" that spans nearly seven minutes.
Overall, this is not my favorite Descendents album, but considering the fact that I'm in love with all of their albums, that's not a bad thing. This album is slightly experimental, and the end result is definitely positive.