Commonly, what tends to happen in the music scene as bands become more and more mainstream or popular is that their music turns catchier and overall less raw and more polished. It happened with A.F.I. Their 1999 album, Black Sails in the Sunset, and everything before that were extraordinarily aggressive and raw works. Though gradually, their music became more and more appealing until by 2006’s Decemberunderground it turned into basically souly pop-punk rather than just strait up punk. This also struck their contemporaries, The Offspring. Nine years after their first album came out and with the release of 1998’s Americana, The Offspring’s music turned significantly poppier. Two years later and after much success, they released Americana part two, better known as Conspiracy of One, which forces me to state a very one sided opinion in saying its was overall pure pop-punk trash. Now its frightening to imagine The Offspring being able to plummet further down hill on Conspiracy of One’s follow up, for the music could only get so much worse. After Conspiracy, they desperately needed to do something fresh, something interesting, and let the pop-punky attitude in their music sieze to exist. Thankfully, (for the most part), on 2003’s Splinter they manage to accomplish those things. Splinter is much heavier than any other Offspring release and mainly less poppier and more punkier. Overall, it’s a relief.
On Splinter, The Offspring scratch their super pop-punk tracks, seen on their last two releases, and replace them with heavy and punkier songs. Among these are Race Against Myself, Never Gonna Find Me, and Lightning Rod. These tracks consist of heavy riffs and fast, pounding drum work. Singer Dexter Holland’s vocals are deeply serious and emotional throughout. What’s so great about them is their aggressive edge most notably on The Noose. The Noose has a classic, killer riff and fast in your face vocals from Dexter. Shouts and woh ohs bring this song to life in a burst of energy. Furthermore, the chunky bass keeps the song moving at a steady pace. Long Way Home along with Lightning Rod and Never Gonna Find Me follows in this pattern nicely with a rumbling base and relentless drumming. These fast, heavy punk songs are all really nice and manage to create some awesome moments which include small guitar and even drum solos. Dexter’s vocals are plenty energetic and Noodle’s fast riffage is fairly impressive. As well as The Noose, The Offspring create another classic, heavy song on Splinter. Race Against Myself is a major highlight. It’s as heavy as any of the other songs but is slower and more emotional. Dexter manages to not go too high on his vocals, where he often sounds annoying, and keeps the energy flowing. On Splinter, The Offspring do a very nice job in creating heavy, punky songs and creating a denser sound that they’ve never created before, resulting in an awesome listen. Though, it’s the remaining, less aggressive tunes where Splinter seems to fail.
Although The Offspring ditched the pop-punky songs, one’s that were supposed to be serious, from their last two albums, they still create an annoying amount of silly tracks. Most notably of these is Worst Hangover Ever. Its supposed to be a more relaxing, reggae/ska type song with silly lyrics in the same vein as Why Don’t You Get A Job complete with a brass section. You can probably guess from the title how stupid the lyrics are as well as what the song’s about. Dexter sings, “Went out drinking late last night. I had a blast / Well now the morning light has come and kicked my ass.” Another silly song is When You’re in Prison. Now this track is actually a bit creative and not as bad as Worst Hangover Ever, but its still rather stupid. It’s played in a 1930’s style complete with authentic crackles which makes it sound like its coming from a radio. Also, there’s Spare Me The Details which uses an acoustic guitar, very rare for The Offspring. Spare Me The Details is an extremely catchy track and actually not bad, but the lyrics about someone cheating on Holland are of course plenty cheesy. Unfortunately, these songs prevent Splinter from becoming pure punk, though they aren’t bad for a fun listen.
The main problem, next to the amount of silly songs, with Splinter is really Dexter Holland’s vocal performances. He’s never really been that great of a singer but in the punk world his vocals do manage to fit in as long as the song doesn’t require any high pitches. What is puzzling is that Dexter to often on Splinter decides to see how high his singing can go. This results in many moments where Dexter’s vocals sound very irritating and forceful especially on the album’s intro, Neocon. Though all in all, he doesn’t render Splinter unlistenable and on The Noose he manages to do what his voice was made for, fast, lower, lively, and more aggressive vocals.
Splinter is definitely refreshing. Most of the songs carry a heavy, punky feel to them rather than a poppy one. Yes, there are still silly songs on Splinter, which are unfortunately fairly poor due to some stupid lyrics, but overall Splinter manages to be very aggressive and sound like The Offspring should sound. Splinter isn’t a huge step forward from the last two albums, but with its abundant amount of punky, dense tracks, its at least a baby one.
Long Way Home
Race Against Myself
Spare Me The Details
Nice work, pretty much my thoughts. The Noose and Race Against Myself are among the bands best songs, but they're the only really good songs on the album I find. When Your in Prison is still pretty damn funny though. And Da Hui is good, but too short,
I said it before, but theres one problem, like you said in the review, too much filler/goof songs and not enough good stuff, simple as that. Feels like an EP. And it took them 3 years to make this?This Message Edited On 03.18.07
One thing The Offspring hasn't done is a touching acoustic ballad and I think Dexter does have the voice for it. It'd be nice to see on the next album.
Although I do like the more "pop-punk" side of Offspring, this became disappointing when taking off the first and last tracks (which weren't serious) and the worst track on here (Worst Hangover Ever), you have just 9 songs to pay $15 for. This Message Edited On 03.19.07
I thought this album was alright. I can understand your complaints about the silly/goofy tracks but come on its The Offspring. They have always been known for there silly songs. The ones in this album just didnt live up to there others. They were still able to make me laugh so I enjoyed them.
i only skimmed through the review, but i'm glad someone else doesn't regard this album as "pop-punk" like co1 and americana, cuz its faster tracks are FAR more punkish than those on their previous 2 albums. also, am i the only one who notices that track 5 is actually titled "race against ME," not "race against myself" like everyone thinks...
i actually ask a friend of mine who is a huge fan of offspring that if i used an offspring t-shirt because i love all the offspring albums except americana and part of rise and fall would probably hit me, he answer me the opposite he will hit anybody who have an offspring t-shirt but the only album that he knows is americana, i'm actually happy that i will use one with all my pride