Well, this has been a looooong time coming. Nine years since the last album and more than two since the band announced it was finished and awaiting release, Let The Bad Times Roll is finally upon us. There’s a lot of pressure on The Offspring to produce the goods, of course there is, so how have they managed?
Would it help if I said I’d listened to the album about a dozen times since I plucked it from the review pile a day or so ago? It’s incredibly listen-to-able, catchy as all help, recognisably The Offspring and (very important) bloody good fun. This is, absolutely, an Offspring album. But one with quirks – good ones.
The title track is already out and you can give it a listen below, as is the brash “We Never Have Sex Any More“. The latter is a bit of a sidestep for the band, featuring a range of backing instruments (trumpets, etc.) and coming over as punk meets swing. And it’s great.
Opening the album with a bang, “This Is Not Utopia” continues the band’s ongoing statement – and typically punkish outlook – that things really could be a bit better. Reminiscent of Bad Religion’s “Los Angeles is Burning” in terms of attitude, it just makes you wonder where The Offpsring have been all these years. All those trademark sounds are in place; the guitar tone, Holland’s vocals, the little quiet bits and the raucous noise.
To briefly highlight a few of the songs: “Behind Your Walls” is a great singalong number with both bouncy and melodic moments. “Breaking These Bones” is as punky and full on as you’d expect from a song with that name. “Coming For You” is a jump-up-and-down anthem. “The Opioid Diaries” thrashes along at breakneck pace… and leads into the even more mental “Hassan Chop”. Hell, there’s even a brief instrumental version of “In the Hall of the Mountain King” (anyone remember Manic Miner?).
But the highlight of the album, by a mile, is “Gone Away Requiem”. The title should be familiar, as it is a reworking of one of the band’s best known and best loved songs. Go check that one out on YouTube, listen to the lyrics and remember that it was written very shortly after Holland lost his fiancée (and the mother of his child) in a car accident. How the hell he didn’t break down singing this live is beyond me. Reading the comments on the video had my eyes leaking.
Now, imagine that song done with just Holland and a piano in the style of Dee Snider’s “We Ain’t Gonna Take It” from a few years ago, but with the ambience of Gary Jules’ version of “Mad World”. Holland’s vocals are even better and show more range in this new version than in the original. It. Is. Incredible. I know people will be hesitant about such a renowned track being “messed with” – I’ve mentioned it to some friends on facebook and the simple idea has some people rankled – but trust me when I say this is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve heard in a long time. This song alone is worth counting the days until April 16th for.
While the sound across the album is indelibly linked to the band, they’re as hard to pin down to a particular style as always. As the proved with Ixnay (and several times since), they’re not afraid to branch out and try different things. While Smash is an undeniable classic they’ve not felt pressured into running off new versions of it every couple of years. Let The Bad Times Roll is the result of many years of not being pigeonholed, and it’s a brilliant result.
Let The Bad Times Roll is out on April 16th