Review Summary: The Offspring slowly realize that a change in sound isn't necessary, as they are at their most effective when covering their own ground.
Since releasing their Greatest Hits
compilation, The Offspring have suffered from a lack of musical direction. There's clear evidence that major success in the mid 00s of fellow bands such as Green Day, Foo Fighters and even Coldplay left a big impact on The Offspring. As a result, their previous record was an attempt at a comeback by creating something big, heavy yet accessible, but they couldn't concentrate all their new influences into their own sound. This way, Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace
, ended up as a carbon copy of each of the bands mentioned and themselves.
So now, four years later, besides the damage done by the band to their own fan base, the expectations lowered to a minimum with the aid of the first two singles released, the title track, "Days Go By" and "Cruisin' California (Bumpin' In My Trunk)", the former being the sound of a tired band and bearing a strong resemblance to Foo Fighters' "Times Like These", while the latter is another failed attempt, this time at a Katy Perry spoof. The track itself is slightly better than such an abomination as "The Worst Hangover Ever", but coming from The Offspring is just disappointing. In the end, the listener won't know if this is really intended as a spoof or is just a masked attempt at a summer hit.
However, despite the weak singles, the album is their most solid work since Splinter
(and yeah Splinter
is good). The first two tracks opening Days Go By
are their hardest hitting in a long time. Both "The Future Is Now" and "Secrets From The Underground" reflect more or less the overall theme of time passing us by. Even if Dexter Holland's lyrics aren't his most effective, this time he actually has something to say, instead of just giving a shot at arena sized laments and cheesy choruses. Along with their trademark frantic riffing and sharp leads, there are some gentle piano touches that really blend in the whole mix, at the same time being the best thing that came off Rise And Fall
. Also, contrary to popular belief, "Secrets From The Underground" is much rather a confession related to the danger on the streets these days, more precisely the violent nature of the people and all the gang wars going on ("Hey you, no, I'm not gonna go away/I've got something more to say/ Kicking, screaming, knocks you down, it knocks you down/ Hey you, you, underneath, we'll tear you down/Secrets from the underground, anger's gone so far "). Even if the lyrics are somewhat vague, The Offspring don't expect people to think of them as an underground band after 18 years of mainstream exposure. Nevertheless, these two songs are really good and start the album really strong.
From here on, the quality of the tracks constantly goes up and down. "Turning Into You" is a nice addition to Days Go By
, as it showcases the fact that The Offspring can still bring something good to the table without copying their mid 90s output. The track constantly shifts gears, it doesn't sound forced and is really enjoyable as a whole. This is the way most of the material on Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace
should have sounded if done right. On the negative side, "All I Have Left Is You" doesn't succeed as a power ballad mainly because Dexter's lyrics are superficial and uninteresting, in the same way "Kristy, Are You Okay?" ended up as a 10 year old lament, despite the fact that it touches a delicate subject. The band proved they can churn out powerful ballads (see "Gone Away", which technically isn't a ballad, but the lyrics really bring the track to life), but lately they seem forced, as if the records are meant to have some sort of ballads.
Another highlight on Days Go By
is the reworked version of "Dirty Magic", off their 1992 record, Ignition
. The sound quality is definitely better, the guitars are more audibly layered and overall, the band really made justice to such an underrated song. Also, "Dividing By Zero" is the closest this record comes to old school Offspring: with a great, catchy melody and powerful guitars, the track really brings out great memories as well as nostalgia in between fans. Even though infamous producer Bob Rock is at the helm once again, this time he kept his overpolishing tendencies to a lower level. However, it would be of great benefit if they ditched Rock for future releases.
Overall, Days Go By
ends up as a solid record only because there are traces of The Offspring again and not a band that tries to copy others. Still, at the same time, it offers some memorable tracks worthy of putting next to earlier material and a hope for more in the following years. It seems that The Offspring slowly realize that a change in sound isn't necessary, as they are at their most effective when covering their own ground.