Good Riddance - Thoughts and Prayers (Cover Artwork)

Good Riddance

Thoughts and Prayers (2019)

fat wreck chords

“Now, you're not naive enough to think we're living in a democracy, are you, Buddy?”

Gordon Gecko’s quote from the 1987 film “Wall Street”, that kicks off Good Riddance’s 9th full length album, could not be more current.

2015 saw the return of Good Riddance from their 8 year hiatus/break up with the most excellent “Peace In Our Time”. Four years on from that, the band deliver their follow up, the tongue in cheek, politically slacktivist titled, “Thoughts and Prayers”. A timely title that’s likely to invoke a laugh and a scoff.

The Trump administration and America in general certainly is giving GR and Russ Rankin a whole lot of fuel for the fire.

Like every other album Good Riddance has released since 1999’s “Operation Phoenix”, this too is produced by the almighty Bill Stevenson. It seems, production-wise, every record these guys do at the Blasting Room gets slicker, tighter and louder. This is no exception.

The album starts strong with the Gordon Gecko rant segueing into “Edmund Pettis Bridge” which is the site of Bloody Sunday in 1965. 600 civil right movement protesters attempted to cross the bridge, only to be brutally beaten by police and driven back to Selma. “Let’s talk about hope/we need a little sympathy/I think about my country/through the lens of history” sings Rankin poignantly. Followed up by the short burst of hardcore with “Rapture”, it’s clear that Good Riddance hasn’t lost one bit of edge. If anything, they’ve cut out some of the pop punk that infiltrated “Peace In Our Time” and focused more on what they do best, catchy melodic hardcore.

“When violence breeds indifference we are lost” Rankin sings on “No King But Caesar”, once again lamenting about the state of society via this raging punk rock song. In fact, most of this album does not let up in terms of speed, aggression and vitriol. When they do slow things down on songs like “Wish You Well”, which wouldn’t sound out of place on “Symptoms of a Leveling Spirit” and “No Safe Place” the band know to rely on hooks and Luke Pabich’s huge guitar riffs. Whenever they slow it down for one song, inevitably the next song pounces. Such as “Pox Americana” which, while not ground-breaking by any means, explores new and creative melodies for the band. For a Good Riddance song, that is. That really is the only issue with this album and really all of Good Riddance’s music. It’s generally a spin on what’s come before. It lacks originality compared to what some of their peers are doing but it makes up for it in terms of the message conveyed with Russ Rankin’s lyrics, the song writing and the musicianship. That being said, this is one of Good Riddance’s most consistently fantastic records to date. There really are no throw away tracks on “Thoughts and Prayers”.

The album ties everything up with “Requisite Catastrophes”. Another song warning about the state of affairs in current times. Lyrically speaking, it’s not the most hopeful or uplifting album but these aren’t the most hopeful or uplifting times and it seems everyone could use a little reality check. If it comes in the form of 12 shorts blasts of melodic punk rock, even better.