Review Summary: One of the 90's biggest punk bands officially hits middle-age.
Prior to the release of their ninth album, Days Go By
, in response to fans’ denouncement of their punk roots, The Offspring pulled a serious stunt by saying that they’re so punk, they’re not punk. This brings back bitter memories of other 90’s punk rock bands and their departure from the archetypal punk aesthetic. Trading in furious blasts of chords and lightspeed drumming for melody and supposed lyrical relatability, The Offspring began putting their heritage on the backburner and branching out from their already established history. The Offspring haven’t departed from the sound brought out in their previous album, Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace
, but that’s the biggest issue. Days Go By
sits in an uncomfortable limbo, between the belt-out punk archetype and the melodic radio-rock accessible sound. The result is something that will crack a few smiles from passing radio listeners, but lacks the soul and ingenuity of its pedigree.
The radio single “Days Go By” isn’t bad. It’s not. The mid-tempo, feel-good flow is a high mark for the band, but aside from the crowing of Dexter Holland, this is a cut-and-paste anthem that can sit comfortably beside Foo Fighters on your alt rock airwaves. In a more severe case, the disgustingly titled “Secrets From the Undergound” seems to defeat the point of why fans have stuck by The Offspring since the 90’s. It’s a stale rock track with no sense of inventive soul, whose very title seems to taunt long-time fans of this modern punk relic. This isn’t underground anymore, guys. You’ve entered the world of mainstream radio rock.
It’s at “Hurting As One” that the band gets just plain crushing. It’s so disappointing, this song. Why? Because it’s so very close to being a proper Offspring track. Gathering a vibe from “All I Want” or “A Million Miles Away”, “Hurting As One” gelatinizes a foundation that would make any other budding punk band proud to follow. It’s intense, aggressive, and really brings out that clenched-fist rage that is missing from so many other songs that the band has released in the last ten or so years. It’s close. So very close to being a fantastic Offspring song, but misses the mark by a hair. Same with “Dividing By Zero.” It’s close. It’s fast, energized, and remarkably well-composed as a punk song, but it feels so lonely among the stale rock anthems. Guys…make more songs like this.
Even the ballads feel empty on Days Go By
. “All I Have Left Is You” is shallow in the same vibe as “Kristy, Are You Doing Okay?” That…well…it’s not okay. Between the brooding and cookie-cutter alt rock, “OC Guns” mixes in turntables and a laid-back groove for solid effect. Channeling the spirits of Sublime, it’s a groovy, Latin-inspired track that will keep you moving. Though the guitars are turned down, it must be said that “OC Guns” is a good song…for an underwhelming album.
“Turning Into You” is a brighter spot amongst a redundant and stale Offspring record. It rocks a bit harder than expected, emitting a darker and much more vengeful style for an otherwise energetic band. The song takes a few left turns for a punk band, but if you strip away the vocals, it’s another typical brooding rock song that shows no personality. “Cruising California” celebrates summer in a weird way. It has the goofy charm of songs like “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy),” but the lyrics don’t sound like goofy jokes. It’s like the guys are trying to appeal to today’s “in-crowd.” It’s another summer star that will shine on radio, but why there is auto-tuning on an Offspring track is beyond explanation. It’s another attempt for the band to branch out and explore the pop style, but I can’t in good faith call it anything more than something that will be played at beach clubs and denounced by the rock crowd. It’s a freaky mess of a song. Bump that trunk, guys.
There are a few scatterbrained pieces of bliss on Days Go By
, but The Offspring have proven that they need a boost before creating their next studio album. Whether it’s more re-written punk anthems or a complete revisiting of the past, they need something. The edgy and exciting punk stylings of The Offspring are there, but they’ve better put into a much better light before. For a band that has been revered since the 90’s for their quirky sense of humor, but respect for punk’s fundamentals, The Offspring have hit middle age with Days Go By
. It’s going to be played frequently on the radio, that can’t be denied, but if you’ve been tracking these guys since day one, there’s no sense in blurring that vision of nostalgia any longer. The Offspring’s Days Go By
is another unsettling look at a band whose bag of tricks is running dangerously low, so if you’re hoping for a return to the roots for this otherwise influential band, just remember: days go by, and so do The Offspring.