The Offspring
Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace


1.5
very poor

Review

by Dr Dave De Sylvia STAFF
June 24th, 2008 | 174 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The lyrics are so patently ridiculous and lacking in perspective that they become all-consuming.

There’s no real scientific evidence for it, but it’s been more or less proven that the more effort the Offspring put into forging a distinct sound, the lower the quality of Dexter Holland’s songwriting. Sure, there are anomalies- ‘Come Out And Play’ may prove to be the singularly most brilliant track the band have put out, and the sublime ‘Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)’ expertly skirts the infectious/irritating divide- but in general the Orange County punks fare best when they’re marrying Noodles’ infectious, brazen riffs with Holland’s sincere-but-fairly-meaningless political slogans. Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace makes a point of ticking both boxes from the outset (as, indeed, did predecessor Splinter): it takes its cues from the top commercial rock bands of the day- Muse, Green Day, Foo Fighters, etc.- and witnesses Holland waxing lyrical about the environment and all that good shit. So why, then, does the group’s eighth studio album make a good case for being their worst?

The cause is pretty damn fundamental, as it happens. The Offspring drafted super-producer Bob Rock to spearhead their return to the pantheons of radio rock glory. Rock, much maligned today as the man who single-handedly ruined Metallica, was in his day one of the most revered producers in the business. To bands like the Cult and Motley Crue, Rock represented an opportunity to regain focus after unsuccessful releases, if not commercially then at least critically. Rock’s uncompromising and ruthless pursuit of excellence may not have won him many friends- he’s known to have had guitarists spend entire days recording a single riff- but most of the groups he’s partnered have been quick to note his effect on raising their personal standards. And, it must be noted, all of Rock’s releases sound immaculate- he is a perfectionist, after all. Equally, though, if Bob Rock isn’t given an awful lot to work with, the records can wind up sounding like generic Bob Rock records, rather than Metallica, Our Lady Peace or, in this case, Offspring records.

Put simply, Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace is the least “Offspring” record the band have managed to produce. It’s obvious as early as opening track ‘Half-Truism’ that main songwriter Holland has been dipping into his theatrical rock play book, and the lessons he’s drawn don’t make for easy listening. The chiming guitar intro borrows liberally from Muse’s ‘New Born’- think ‘Ice Ice Baby’-like proportions- before resolving to a frenetically paced verse that’s more in tune with Offspring openers of old. Inexplicably, however, the song reverts to a plodding, half-speed chorus that kills all the momentum that the track had built. One can’t help but draw comparisons with The Black Parade, so overwrought is the stab at grandiosity. The multi-layered guitar and vocal tracks are meant to emphasise the majesty of the chorus, but they succeed only in glossing over the imperfections that give Holland’s voice its unique character. They pull off the numerous tempo changes with due diligence, but this is not enough to overcome the track’s general tediousness.

This misguided eagerness to please is endemic throughout the album’s 12 tracks, from the appropriation of other artists’ styles (the chunky riffing and brutish vocals of ‘Hammerhead’ are reminiscent of Dave Grohl, while closer ‘Rise And Fall’ is a transparent attempt to recreate the vitality of Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’) to Holland’s equally unrelatable lyrics. Dexter has always been keen to play up to the teenage revolutionary demographic- occasionally striking gold, such as with the societal critique ‘Genocide’- but whereas before his lyrics only fell down under scrutiny (if at all), nowadays his political posturing sounds ridiculous the moment it leaves his mouth. He directs his ire at easy targets like bloodthirsty soldiers (Christians, natch) and the irresponsible media (FauxNews!), without ever really saying anything of substance, or at least addressing a topic that hadn’t already been run into the ground the first time they wrote about Baghdad. Even ‘Nothingtown,’ a return to one of Dexter’s favourite topics (suburban malaise), is a non-starter: your writer assumes he’s not the only one who lost interest when Holland started bleating about “picket fences.”

‘Stuff Is Messed Up’ (apparently censored for inclusion on the tracklist- the actual lyric is “shit is fucked up”) sums up the generally half-assed nature of the record. Racing out of the trap with probably one of the dumbest lyrics ever written, Dexter poignantly notes: “the world is crying but nobody’s listening… so please leave a message on my cell phone.” Is this the legacy Al Gore has left us? Thing is, musically, ‘Stuff Is Messed Up’ is the one true moment of pop punk genius on the record- and it’s in no way a slight to say it could neatly sit alongside Avril Lavigne’s ‘The Best Damn Thing’- it’s just that the lyrics are so patently ridiculous and lacking in perspective that they become all-consuming. Like a moth on a TV screen during a particularly engaging movie, it becomes impossible to focus on anything else. Elsewhere, tracks like ‘Fix You’ (yes, it expresses exactly the same sentiments as the Coldplay song, except it sounds like a Sum 41 ballad) and ‘Takes Me Nowhere’ have the opposite effect- they’re vague to the point that they don’t actually say anything. It’s hard to say which is worse.



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user ratings (851)
Chart.
3.1
good
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • risingabove (4)
    Maybe 2000s The Offspring wasn't that bad......

    teslabarrier (4)
    give it a chance....

    H. (3.5)
    The album rises... and then falls....

    Vilen1025 (2)
    Not everything must be punk to be musical, but it must be creative, and this album could u...

  • Oddsen (3.5)
    Probably The Offspring's best effort in ten years, but that's not saying too much....

    Robby Roark (The Sludge) (4)
    The Offspring made their most diverse album to date, without losing their traditional soun...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 24th 2008


15743 Comments


The summary pretty much describes my feelings for Hammerhead. I knew this would suck, I was surprised it was getting any critical acclaim at all. Great review.

FenderUsa
June 24th 2008


582 Comments


Smash rules

rasputin
June 24th 2008


14555 Comments


geez I don't think it's this bad. the second half of the album is pretty boring, but there are a few tracks in the first half that I like. I may drop my rating to a 2.5 depending on how long it takes before I get bored, but not this low. Hammerhead is a terrible song however.

tcaporale
June 24th 2008


177 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I agree. I quite simply find most of this album annoying.

Neoteric
June 24th 2008


3243 Comments


The Offspring have been making the same record for the past 10 years.

tcaporale
June 24th 2008


177 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Anyone notice the complete rip of Coldplay's "Clocks" in "A Lot Like Me"?

Iai
Emeritus
June 24th 2008


3553 Comments


Loving the Brass Eye reference there.

taylormemer
June 24th 2008


4944 Comments


Neoteric has it in the bag with that comment.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
June 24th 2008


15743 Comments


lol stuff is messed up

SHOOTME
June 24th 2008


2393 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review, but I completely disagree.

Ironpriest
June 24th 2008


403 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good review. but give me this over conspiracy of one and splinter anyday.....


lateoctober
June 24th 2008


171 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This review makes me feel less alone.

Meatplow
June 25th 2008


5524 Comments


Thank you.

I get an incredible sense of the mediocre from this album, the band sounds like they have a fresh energy but it's mostly all focused on spraying boring musical parts and irritating lyrics out the anus.

AtavanHalen
June 25th 2008


17927 Comments


Dave, you've done it again. Still quite keen to hear this, though.

descendents1
June 25th 2008


702 Comments


The Offspring have been making the same record for the past 10 years.


Easiest excuse to use to explain a band's lack of success when clearly their problem extends to an overall lack of originality. They change their formula up but they pick poor directions and the quality of the music suffers.

robandrew06
June 25th 2008


3 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Whoever wrote this review is an absoloute PRICK. If I meet you I would much enjoy slapping you round the face with a wet fish. The track you refer to as rage and grace is actually rise and fall and despite its similarities to american idiot (only in the opening riff very slightly) it is still a very good song. This album is full of energy, variety, and to me it is one of their best albums, if not their best. fucking hate critics that are so up their own assd they have to put a downer on anything. Go and make your own album that is better. FUCKER!This Message Edited On 06.27.08

SpinLightTwo
June 25th 2008


1043 Comments



Whoever wrote this song is an absoloute PRICK. If I meet you I would much enjoy slapping you round the face with a wet fish. The track you refer to as rage and grace is actually rise and fall and despite its similarities to american idiot (only in the opening riff very slightly) it is still a very good song. This album is full of energy, variety, and to me it is one of their best albums, if not their best. ****ing hate critics that are so up their own assd they have to put a downer on anything. Go and make your own album that is better. ****ER!


it's a review for starters.

cleary21
June 25th 2008


671 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I don't mind it that much some of it is actually reminescent of thier older days. Sure some of it is boring but if you look at the common theme of pop-punk comeback releases you find the band loses its previous grace (Green Day, Good Charlotte, Sum 41) Bad Religion is the only band to produce a solid punk record recently

Cesar
June 25th 2008


2732 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I like this album a lot.

If I meet you I would much enjoy slapping you round the face with a wet fish.


I lol so hard at that.


rasputin
June 25th 2008


14555 Comments


robandrew, hero of sputnik.



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