Review Summary: Days go by, and so will The Offspring.
In 2008, The Offspring released their eighth album, "Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace". It was criticized for being to soft and pop-y, with three ballads on the album. Four years later, they released "Days Go By", a shift back to punk, with hard lyrics and a harder sound. Could this be what fans of punk are looking for? A return to the roots that gave The Offspring so many of their fans and critical acclaim?
Well, let's start with what went wrong with the album. Track two, "Secrets from the Underground" is essentially a carbon copy of "Can't Repeat" from their 2005 Greatest Hits album. True fact: I was once singing along to "Can't Repeat" and during the second verse, I sang "Secrets from the Underground" instead. It's that similar. Track five "Hurting As One" has a horribly repetitive chorus. Normally, I can excuse repetitiveness if it's catchy, but not this time, and a repetitive bridge that consists of nothing but "oohs" for 30 seconds.
Possibly the worst song that The Offspring have ever made is "Cruising California (Bumpin' in My Trunk)". It's basically the joke song of the album, but a horribly bad one. It tries to be "Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)", and fails. Dexter's singing is horrible, the lyrics suck hard, and although it was intended as a satire of modern pop music, it just isn't very good. It serves its purpose, although terribly. The bigger question is, why would they even want to include this song? In an album full of serious themes and hard-hitting punk, Cruising California seems to be a break from all the seriousness, but it comes out sounding like a sellout song.
"O.C. Guns" has Latin roots in its music, á la Sublime, and is another joke song on the album. It has Dexter singing in Spanish for some lines of the chorus, and ultimately, ends up being wasted potential with an ambiguous meaning. "I Wanna Secret Family (With You)" is the last joke song, and this one is a 100% carbon copy of "Spare Me the Details" from 2003's Splinter. I guess it isn't a real joke song as its lyrics about pedophilia, but it isn't even half as good as "Spare Me the Details" was.
The Offspring do a lot of things wrong, but they do a lot of good, too. The opener "The Future Is Now" talks about seizing the day, with a great line in "flashback, 1984, now who's knock-knocking at your door?", 1984 being the year The Offspring formed. It's one of the album's heavier songs, and has some of the album's strongest lyrics. The first single "Days Go By" has gotten a lot of criticism for being a rip-off of the Foo Fighters' "Times Like These", but I don't see it. What I do see, though is a soft song, albeit with good lyrics.
A song that has grown on me would be "Dividing by Zero". At first I shrugged it off, but now it's one of my favorites. It's a nice short, fast punk song that could fit in with their work on Smash or Ixnay. Perhaps the best song that The Offspring have made since 1997 is on the album, and it's the last track "Slim Pickens Does the Right Thing and Rides the Bomb to Hell". It's a fast, hard punk song with lyrics about the end of the world. There's a nice shout-out to their eleven-week number-one hit, "You're Gonna Go Far, Kid", and the fast drumming by Pete Parada. It's a nice closing to a dark and heavy album.
The other tracks are mostly positive. Third single "Turning Into You" manages to be a cut above the rest, with lyrics about fitting in. People have claimed that it rips off Rise Against's "Ready to Fall", but once again, I don't see it. "All I Have Left Is You" tries to be another "Kristy, Are You Doing Okay?" from RaF,RaG, and isn't as good. "Dirty Magic" is a re-recording of the 1992 original from The Offspring's second album "Ignition", but it isn't as good due to the lack of grittiness that was in his vocals from the original.
My final verdict? We have some great songs, some horrible, horrible songs, and some okay songs. Is it better than Rise and Fall? No. But it's a step in the right direction for being more punk.