Review Summary: A biting social commentary hidden behind witty lyrics and catchy hooks
I could never understand the accusations that Americana
was The Offspring's sell-out album. By the time it came out the band had already achieved commercial success with the pre-predecessor to this album, Smash
, so there was nothing left to prove as far as album sales go. Even though Smash
was and is more intense in terms of punk sensibility, a large part of it was still based on hooks and it still was a singles-oriented album. And to this day, I believe that Smash
has more copies sold than Americana
But let's leave comparisons with their third album aside and focus on the material at hand. The essence of Americana
is most easily seen in the album's artwork: http://www.bandswallpapers.com/data/media/20/Offspring_Thepro2.jpg There, Americana is depicted and personified as an evil creature with many tentacles and arms, each holding an item that is a contributing factor to the decadence of American society - guns, drugs, TV (and other media), fast food, et cetera. This is reflected within the album's musical content with songs such as ode to urban decay and disappointment of adulthood The Kids Aren't Alright
, low-life anthem Why Don't You Get a Job?
and delinquent-woeing Walla Walla
. The title track
is especially relevant, with lyrics such as "Where culture's defined by the / Ones least refined / And you'll be left behind / If you don't fit in"
Despite its grim and gloomy central theme, the album lightens up a bit, offering the occasional humorous element, such as in the overplayed but ever-catchy Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)
and She's Got Issues
. Meanwhile, with fast numbers such as Staring at the Sun
, No Brakes
, and the parody Feelings
the band shows that it hasn't forgotten its punk roots.
Probably the best song on here, however, is Pay the Man
. It is a complex arrangement, featuring a haunting harmonic minor intro that progresses into a hard-hitting and intense punk finish. The song is essentially a conversation between a realist and an idealist, each holding on to their own view of how life is supposed to be. The idealist protests against the idea that there is an unseen external force, the Man
controlling our lives, whereas the realist holds that this is just how life works. And the album ends on a disturbing note, with the realist winning the argument.