Review Summary: Nice riffs + relatable lyrics + catchy hooks = Ixnay on the Hombre
The Offspring were one of the major forces in the 90s punk scene - their witty lyricism, chugging riffs and distinct vocals, it's no wonder they took the world by storm with their multi-platinum classic Smash
. Columbia finally decided to sign them, and with the help of a major label, Ixnay on the Hombre
was released three years after their legendary breakthrough to disappointing sales. It only managed to sell a million copies in sixteen years, but the statistics don't make an album excellent. Even if the money didn't flow right into Dexter and Co.'s hands, Ixnay on the Hombre
cemented itself as a worthy follow up to the best 90s punk album.
The record starts off with a hilarious "Disclaimer" by Jello Biafra of The Dead Kennedys, warning the listeners that the album contains depictions of "real life". The snide, biting sense of sarcasm is what sets it apart from other album intros. "Parental discretion will cleanse any sense of innuendo or sarcasm from the lyrics that might actually make you think!" he cries. After the hilarity of the disclaimer ends, the action kicks off with "The Meaning of Life", one of The Offspring's best songs. With a catchy chorus, eloquent lyricism about being who you are, and an infectious guitar riff, "The Meaning of Life" opens up the album with passion and energy, which is clearly displayed in frontman Dexter Holland's vocals.
All sides of The Offspring are present on this album, including the light-hearted and the emotional. From the stupid and fun "Me & My Old Lady" (which celebrates sex with elders and proclaiming how you can "go on and stare, but we don't care") to the fast and powerful "Mota" (which tells the tale of a drug addict's journey), Ixnay on the Hombre
manages to capture all aspects of The Offspring's works. The poignant social commentary on "Amazed" perfectly encapsulates the feeling of adolescent regret ("yeah, if I could change, then I'd really be amazed") as Dexter's vocals reach the lowest notes he's ever sang. Closer "Change the World" is full of anger and disdain towards marketers who manipulate audiences with false claims about 'changing the world'. These songs and their perspicacious lyrics were the epitome of the 90s punk scene, and The Offspring flawlessly emulated the sound of dissatisfied youth.
Although The Offspring may not be a singles band (godawful songs like "Hit That" and "Original Prankster" make me want to shoot myself in the foot), all of Ixnay
's singles are worth the listen. Radio staple "Gone Away" is The Offspring's most well-known ballad, and is a tragic song about mourning the death of a loved one. The lines "Pulled away before your time / I can't deal, it's so unfair" and "I reach to the skies, and call out your name / Please let me trade, I would" really hits the feeling of despair and sadness home, especially after you realize the song is about the death of frontman Dexter Holland's wife. "All I Want" is a fast two-minute track that may recycle the cliche of "be who you are", but it does it in a powerful and unique way that pumps everyone up. It's hard not to sing along to Dexter's cries of "Back off your rules, back off your jive now, I'm sick of not living to just stay alive!" Even the lesser-known "I Choose" is built around an extremely infectious guitar riff and a catchy chorus - lyrically, it's filled with the same intelligent social commentary that The Offspring were known for back in the 90s. The album does contain a small amount of filler tracks; however, both breeze by really fast and are easily forgettable. "Cool to Hate" is repetitive and redundant, with the entire song being based around the "I hate [insert object of Dexter's hatred here]" formula, while "Leave It Behind" is incredibly monotonous and dull, and the uninspired vocal performance by Holland doesn't help things either.
In the end, Ixnay on the Hombre
for the title of best Offspring album. There are few filler and throwaway tracks, and the rest is pure vintage 90's punk. This was the band's last album that perfectly captured The Offspring's punk sound, with further efforts Americana
and Conspiracy of One
focusing on a more pop image. Many of The Offspring's best songs are on Ixnay
, and even if the album's sound was different from Smash
's, it still managed to overcome that and be a great album. Whether it be explaining how kids take after their parents, or expressing pride over being unique, The Offspring's songwriting skills and lyricism were at their high point on this album, perfectly encapsulating the feelings of adolescent angst. Ixnay on the Hombre
would go on to prove that The Offspring were a band that was here to stay.