Good Riddance - Operation Phoenix (retro review) (Cover Artwork)

Good Riddance

Operation Phoenix (retro review) (1999)

Fat Wreck Chords

When Operation Phoenix was released in 1999, it seemed as if Good Riddance was going in a different direction. In retrospect, that’s not entirely true, but it did mark somewhat of a transition. One could argue that this album was highlighting the band’s best moments. But it could also be argued that the record swayed too far from the band’s signature sound. As a result, fan reaction was somewhat mixed.

Following 1998’s Ballads from the Revolution, an album that contained many of the group’s best features, Phoenix was primarily a hardcore record. There were still moments of melody (“Shadows of Defeat”, “The Hardest Part”, “Self-Fulfilling Catastrophe”, among others), but overall most of the tracks were loud, fast, and aggressive. Good Riddance kicked off the album with a melodic octave progression, a quick bass breakdown, and Russ Rankin’s howl, all of which was a pretty good indicator of what was to follow for the rest of the album.

While the style of the record as a whole changed a bit from the previous three albums, the lyrical content remained familiar. There were still anti war songs that expressed outrage with US foreign policy while denouncing blind faith in government action (“Indoctrination, “Winning the Hearts and Minds”), songs steeped in radical history (“Article IV”), anti-consumer songs (“Shit Talking Capitalists”), and pro-feminist tracks (“18 Seconds”). Even the songs about love were shrouded in a critique of US policy (“Letters Home”).

When this album came out, I remember wondering where the band was going to go next. I enjoyed the album, but I couldn’t help but notice that it lacked some of the elements that I loved about the first 3 records. Despite this though, Operation Phoenix still remains a favorite for some fans. This record provided a cool little snapshot of the band at the time. Good Riddance is still going strong, producing 2 amazing albums within the last five years, both of which have elements of Phoenix scattered throughout.