Review: The Offspring - Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace
Label: Columbia Records
Released: June 17, 2008
Punk rock made its way out of seedy clubs and into arenas over a decade ago, but that didn't always mean that the bands who made it just turned on the commercial rock and abandoned their roots. Green Day, perhaps the genre's biggest success story (unless you consider Nirvana punk), still really plays classic punk even on the ambitious American Idiot. They never really became a commercial rock band even if their music had become commercially viable. The Offspring, on the other hand, perhaps just by virtue of employing Bob Rock, have become a much slicker version of their former selves, evolving into something that might be called punk arena rock.
That leaves a serious question to be answered: Did they become more slick than punk? AOR-ish leads and choruses on songs like "You're Gonna Go Far Kid" and a couple power ballads (I had to skip through "Kristy, Are You Doing OK?") certainly point toward answering yes to that question. Still, those mersh moments aren't that prevalent through most of the album. Instead, they manage to meet Mr Rock's vision of rock n roll perfection (flawed as it is) without selling their soul entirely. Sure, it'd be better unadulterated, but if it has to be prettied up, this doesn't fall into the worst of the pitfalls. It's still more Offspring than Bob Rock and in the end that is the album's limited redemption. In their prime, the Offspring were more lucky than great, but entirely listenable. They're still listenable though even less essential now, but, a few real stinkers aside, they're also still kinda fun.
If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.