Review Summary: The album rises... and then falls.
The Offspring were in a slump. 2003's "Splinter" recieved mediocre reviews, and 2000's "Conspiracy of One" did not fare much better. They went on hiatus, released a Greatest Hits album, and decided to release a new album in 2008 titled "Rise & Fall, Rage & Grace".
"Splinter" had The Offspring put out some of the hardest material in years, and was a nice return to their punk roots. However, it was plagued by the stupid, silly joke songs. "Rise & Fall" takes all the punk that they had and drained it all out. That doesn't necessarily make the album bad, but it will lead to a lot of criticism and claims of sellout.
The opening track "Half-Truism" is average, with no real outstanding moments but no real let-downs either. "Trust in You" is a great, fast punk song, memorable of their "Ixnay on the Hombre" days. Meanwhile, second single "You're Gonna Go Far, Kid" is a highlight in the album, being a fast punk song, and is The Offspring's best-selling song in the United States. It has a great sing-along chorus, and will no doubt be remembered 15 years from now. Another great song on the album is the fourth track "Hammerhead", which tells the story of a school shooter. It is the hardest song on the album, in my opinion, and has a gritty feel to it, with dark lyrics and hard-hitting drums and guitar.
All that punk built up in the first four tracks is lost in "A Lot Like Me", which sounds like something Coldplay would do. For a hard punk band, this song screams sellout. Oh, and Dexter's vocals on the song are below average. The instruments are played way too soft, and all this adds up to a mediocre track with spoils the momentum built up by tracks like "Hammerhead" and "Trust in You". The lyrics are above average, I'll give them that. The Offspring do redeem themselves with "Takes Me Nowhere", another fast punk song with great lyrics.
So, the first half is mostly good. What about the second" To be honest, seventh track "Kristy, Are You Doing Okay"" isn't as bad as people make it out to be. Like "A Lot Like Me", it's a soft ballad, but Dexter's vocals are better, and the lyrics are an apology letter to a girl Dexter knew who was getting raped by his father, but didn't do anything about it.
The real fall starts at "Nothingtown", which is filler and is a recreation of their 2000 hit "Want You Bad". It's mediocre, and doesn't achieve anything but waste four minutes of album space. "Stuff is Messed Up" is the exception to the rule, being the only good song in the latter half of the album. It has sarcastic lyrics about society, and a censored title: the actual line is "s**t is f**ked up". Dexter does some really fast rapping in the bridge, and ends up being a highlight of half two of the album.
"Fix You" tries to be like Kristy, being a soft ballad, and sounds similar to The Verve Pipe's 1997 hit "The Freshmen". For a hard punk band, this is an embarrassment. "Let's Hear it for Rock Bottom" is mediocre, sounding just like "Trust in You", and Dexter's vocals sound a little too nasally in the chorus. The final track, "Rise and Fall", clearly rips off Green Day's "American Idiot", and is also mediocre. Lines like "I'd hate to say that I told you so... but I told you so!" seem childish in the mind of a 42-year old.
So, the album is a tale of two halves. The hard-hitting first half, and the soft, mediocre second half. The greatness in the first half overpowers the mediocrity of the second half, and therefore the album is solid. It is better than Splinter, but watch out for the people who deem this as sellout.