The Hang of Music: Crunch!
Another week, another Thursday, another introduction. I always find these the hardest bits to write, without being cheesy.
Anyway, back into the annals of time now, and to what is meant to be a pretty influential punk album: the rather presciently (or possibly rather conceitedly) titled “Smash”, by The Offspring.
I read somewhere that this album, along with NOFX, was the start of the whole second wave of american punk. If so, then this album has got a lot to answer for: a lot of the american “punk” of the 90s was just an excuse for shitty musicianship and teenage angst. But this is no reflection on the band themselves, and if NOFX can be good, then so can The Offspring.
Bad Habit reminds me, in theme, of Fast Cars. The world always needs more funny songs about how driving fast cars at high speeds is a fucking stupid idea on roads without bumper cushions. Although having a gun to take revenge against stupid drivers seems a little bit over the top.
“Gotta Get Away” sounds sufficiently BIG.
That’s a nice bit of guitar on the front of “Genocide”. I always like proper use of the Rhythm/lead guitar play-off. As the vocals start, though, I have to wonder if I’m hearing it right, because this is what I think he’s saying:
“Donkey Kong/Everyday/On a pillow then we pray
Donkey Kong/To get by/Hope you like my can-o-cider”
I hope this is what he’s actually saying, because Donkey Kong everday sounds like fun. Nintendo FTW!
“Come Out and Play” reminds me of that song on the previous album; “Tehran” I think it was. They actually went for a style and did their best to capture it. They’ve gone back to using middle eastern sounding stuff – from the snatches of lyrics I’ve heard, it seems to be a reference to a genie.
Oh wait, no – it’s about kids killing each other in gang wars. Ah well, I was close…
“Self-Esteem” uses those four chords that every song uses. It’s not quite a four chord pop-song rhythm, as it sounds way too grungy – in fact the song the opening reminds me of most is that most overplayed of songs, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – but I swear, like Pachelbel’s Canon, that rhythm and set of chords is pretty much everywhere. (And yet I can’t think of any other examples…)
Style change! Suddenly, syncopation! “What Happened To You?” only needs a fucking trumpet, and that would make it perfect! And I really am partial to a sweet solo like the one on display.
Wait… Is “Something to Believe In” a discussion of objectivism and subjectivism? Hang on:
“I believe that reality’s gone
I believe that morality’s gone
And there’s nothing to feel”
“See it happen in your own backyard
Everything breaks down”
I actually think it is! Combined with songs about youth gang culture (“Come Out and Play”), guilt and responsibility over the state of the world (“Not The One”) and over man’s inhumanity to man (it turns out that this is what “Genocide” is about; my bad), I have to confess that I am thoroughly impressed with the content of this album. No problems here. I doff my cap to you guys.
(For less serious politicking, the titular track is a 15 years too prescient attack on “trendy assholes”. Wow. I guess The Offspring really can say in all honesty that they really were hating hipsters before it was cool.)
A symptom of wannabe punk songs is the habit of having a point, a specific point to make, and not getting around to mentioning it. These songs all sound like they have a specific grievance, a particular target, but the target’s name is somehow left off the end. I often think that this is because, though these bands identifiy as punk rockers, they want avoid naming names and causing offence.
Fuck that. That is my usual response to songs like that. And despite what I had previously thought about The Offspring (“Pretty Fly for a White Guy” and “Want You Bad” are hardly staples of ideaological thought), that seems to be their response too.
I suppose I’ve always given The Offspring a bit of a bad rap; I’ve had a tendency to associate them wth the very sort of whiny white-boy persona that they themselves take the piss out of. But this is a solid album, and now I suppose I’ll have to give them less stick and more of a listen. Ho hum…
Oh, and for another reason why I’m tempted to give them another look, here is a fan video for one of the tracks on their new album. [Trigger warning for ponies.] Enjoy!