Review: The Offspring's Days Go By
Album by: The Offspring
Released: June, 2012
Genre: Alternative, pop punk
Producer: Bob Rock
The Offspring has been around for nearly 30 years. This is their ninth studio album to date. Most of these guys must be pushing fifty by now, and have put on weight over the years. It was almost laughable to see Dexter and Noodles in wetsuits for their “Da Hui” music video – and that was ten years ago. It's a far cry indeed from the days when Dexter was barely 65 kg, and had dreadlocks for hair.
The Offspring you know today isn’t The Offspring that existed 20, maybe 25 years ago. The band started out as a punk rock band in the mid 80’s, inspired by Social Distortion. At that time they couldn’t even play any instruments. They really became a hit in the 90’s, particularly in 1994 with Smash being their breakout album. At that time they were on Epitaph. But amongst some controversy which may or may not have involved Bad Religion’s Brett Gurewitz, the band jumped to Columbia Records. Whatever their reason for doing it, many saw this as committing the cardinal sin of any punk rock band: they sold out. From there it was movie soundtracks, Dexter’s own brand of hot sauce called Gringo Bandito… the list goes on.
After the jump to Columbia, The Offspring then went on to release the commercially-oriented album known as Americana a few years after that, which was probably their most commercially successful album to date, but their truest followers shunned it, likely.
The band probably reached the peak of their career with Conspiracy Of One. This was the last album with their familiar sound, trademark whimsy, and off the wall sense of humour. Since those days, they’ve adopted a more mature, more serious attitude and sound. This is reflected in the fact that they no longer have the trademark flaming skull replacing the “O” in their name, and the album art for the most part is different; more sombre. There aren’t any extras on the discs; no karaoke tracks; no lewd photos; no music videos. It’s just the songs themselves. There aren’t even any hidden bonus tracks snuck in at the end of the last track. In a way, they’ve almost gone back to their early albums presentation-wise. But the sound has changed. There’s no doubt.
One can’t help but think that the release of their Greatest Hits album and music video collection between the release of Splinter and Rise and Fall, Rage And Grace signified this change. Out with the old, and in with the new.
Days Go By has mostly new with some old thrown in for good measure. This is pretty much their sound going forward then. There’s more keyboard and electronics, which is what made me dislike their previous effort, Rise and Fall, Rage And Grace, seeing as it sounded like Blink 182, or Angels and Airwaves. And that was the reason why I originally liked the Offspring: because they weren’t Blink. Everyone liked Blink, but not I. Days Go By has some good songs on it, rest assured. It starts off well; the middle is mostly filler; and the end has some good songs too. It’s nowhere near as dark, heavy and edgy as Smash though, which was inspired by the likes of Nirvana – which is evident when one compares “Smells Like Teen Spirit” to “Self Esteem” – and not even as complex or deep as said album. The songs are short, to the point, and sort of lighter and more pop-py – if that’s even a word. I am however glad to see that Dexter still has his voice. Almost everyone edging fifty has lost theirs, but not he. He’s still very capable of penning some great lyrics, and providing the energetic lead vocals, hitting high notes where necessary without struggling much. And Noodles probably still is one of the better guitarists out there today.
This album is an improvement over the previous one, but as far as I’m concerned they’re past it in a way. I still buy their albums and listen to them, only to find myself digging further back in their discography after a while. It’s a guilty pleasure to listen to them. I’m almost ashamed to admit it publicly, and that can’t be a good thing. I can’t in good conscience call The Offspring a punk rock band, or at least I can’t call this album a punk rock album. It isn’t really, at least not to me. It’s more pop punk, like Blink.
Their last, best effort was Conspiracy Of One, and that was more than a decade ago. Days really do go by, after all.
The Future Is Now
Secrets From The Underground
Days Go By
Turning Into You
Hurting As One
Cruising California (Bumpin’ In My Trunk)
All I Have Left Is You
I Wanna Secret Family (With You)
Dividing By Zero
Slim Pickens Does The Right Thing And Rides The Bomb To Hell
Track by track review
“The Future Is Now”
The first song on practically every Offspring album is one of, if not the greatest. And this is likely no exception. I can’t help but draw similarities between it and “Can’t Repeat”. It has a frenetic pace, catchy lyrics with some primal screeching every now and again, which I like a lot. There’s a nice bass guitar solo chucked in which doesn’t happen all that often – it sort of reminds me of “The Kids Aren’t Alright”. Even the keys that come in at one point complement the track nicely, although will be quite foreign sounding to most die-hard Offspring fans. The transition in to the second track is also reminiscent of Americana.
“Secrets From The Underground”
The second track is just as good as the first. It has a more political theme to it than most tracks here, which is almost alien when it comes to more recent Offspring albums, but not unwelcome. It takes one back to when they were in their prime during the mid-90’s. Smash, for instance, was wholly political in theme. But this is more like Ignition, and less like Smash.
“Days Go By”
The eponymous track on this album is a feel-good song. It’s melodious and light and would probably fit perfectly as part of the soundtrack to some rom-drom-comedy, and it would roll during the credits. It’s not all together that bad, though.
“Turning Into You”
This sounds a lot like something more melodic, angsty and full of feeling that would have come out of Ixnay On The Hombre or Conspiracy Of One, such as “Denial, Revisited”.
“Hurting As One”
There’s no doubt that this track has Conspiracy of One and Splinter written all over it. It’s a bit repetitive, but the signature whoas make an appearance here. The chorus is rather catchy.
“Cruising California (Bumpin’ In My Trunk)”
This is exactly the sort of track that I don’t like to hear from The Offspring. They insist on putting one of these on every album, and have done so since Americana. It’s a single, and as such it’s a radio-friendly track; just not friendly to my ears, unfortunately. It’s actually probably worse than that hip hop-inspired remix of “The Kids Aren’t Alright”. Damn.
“All I Have Left Is You”
Dexter tries his hand at crooning here, in a track that sounds a lot like something that would come out of Coldplay. I almost didn’t recognise his voice, seeing as he usually has it turned up to the usual slightly nasal-sounding screaming that we’ve all come to know and love. It’s not one of my favourites on this album, but not the worst track.
Another obligatory radio-friendly track that while funny, doesn’t appeal to my tastes much. After listening to this Reggae song with trademark Mexican Spanish lyrics for a minute or so, it’s time to skip to the next track.
"Dirty Magic" is an iconic track – more significant than you might realise. It first appeared on Ignition, the band’s second album, and has been cited as the first more commercial-sounding track to come out of The Offspring. It was a preview of things to come in the fourth album, Ixnay On The Hombre, with tracks like “Gone Away”. It has the same depressing, melodramatic lyrics.
This is the third time it has appeared on a studio album. Wait? What? Second time, surely? No, because if you listen closely, the song structure, particularly the chorus, is very similar to “Have You Ever (Falling)” off of Americana. That was just a rehashed version of this song, with different lyrics.
This "Dirty Magic" then sounds quite a bit like the original, with a redone intro. Besides that it’s been left mostly untouched. It’s a faithful re-recording. Nothing more, nothing less.
“I Wanna Secret Family (With You)”
This isn’t a bad song at all. Initially I thought it would be lame, but once you get into it, it’s all just fun. I believe the working title for this song might have been “It’s All Right”. It’s sort of in the same vein as “Special Delivery” thematically. It’s a kind of throwback to the 80’s and feels like it would be at home playing in a retro bar of sorts, or while some models strut their stuff on the cat walk. Weird, but that’s the image I get when I listen to it.
“Dividing By Zero”
This song has a good intro, and has a lot of promise, but I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed when it progressed past this stage, specifically when it reaches the chorus. It's almost as though it changed down a gear. Still, one of the better songs on Days Go By.
“Slim Pickens Does The Right Thing And Rides The Bomb To Hell”
This is without a doubt the surprise hit of the entire album, which was left for last. It continues the war theme that was brought up in the previous song, “Dividing By Zero”. Here we have some great lyrics and not to mention some chorused swearing. I’ll take some of that, please.
Overall rating: $$$
What do you think of Days Go By?
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