What a difference a couple of years makes. But since we’re talking about the SoCal stalwarts who inspired a million modern punkers with 1994’s Smash, this particular difference isn’t measured in terms of lyrical maturity or technical proficiency.
Half the time Dexter Holland & Co.’s eighth effort is business as usual, all speed, thrash and strained, nasal vocals. But then there’s a number like “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid,” about a gangster-in-training, that features a loping beat strikingly similar to Fall Out Boy’s “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race.” “Fix You” and “Kristy, Are You Doing Okay?” are among the slowest songs in the band’s entire catalog, the latter a crude knockoff of every introspective, semi-acoustic number that closes any number of generic modern-rock monstrosities. And, in the most pronounced “Did I really just hear that?” moment, the gothic intro, propulsive verses and gasping, bombastic chorus of opener “Half-Truism” mirror My Chemical Romance’s “Helena.”
The Offspring certainly spent enough time with the Alternative Press crowd on the 2005 Warped Tour; is it pure coincidence that the next album out sounds like a Warped best-of sampler? Or have the influencers become the influenced, nullifying a decade-plus of cred in the process?
The bottom line: *1/2