Most people are generally familiar with The Offspring's later albums such as the catchy Americana and Smash, but before they broke their way into the mainstream, this punk band from the O.C. showed surprisingly well written and lyrical punk rock music. In 1989, The Offspring recorded their first self-titled later to be released on Nitro in 1995. When I first picked this up, I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. It showed a much different and almost stranger side to The Offspring and that the Dexter Holland, the singer, can write good, even political, lyrics.
The album kicks off with Jennifer Lost the War, a good song that starts out with a solid riff and then leads into just drums and Dexter's voice. Then the guitar jumps back in with a faster punkier feel with little solos in between verses which seem to pop up often on the album. Soon you may start to realize the lyrics to this song are great. Dexter sings about war and how awful it can be. Overall, it is an excellent song and a favorite. Next Elders starts off with a fast bass driven sound followed by Dexter's singing that is really more like fast talking (but not rap). Dexter sings about how "elders" have tried to shape him into something he does not want to be. Really, this song is punky, but not anything too special.
Next comes Out on Patrol a personal favorite that starts out surprisingly with a fast moving acoustic guitar. But soon all the instruments jump in with another fast moving song. Than you start hearing Dexter's emotional voice which leads into a stunning chorus that has got the band shouting "out on patrol!" The song is about a soldier and what it might be like for him if he where in a war. Eventually, the acoustic guitar fades in and out again. Finally, the song ends with a uno, does, tres, qoutarous, and then some snare drum. Now the next song Crossroads starts and slowly builds until the bass and the guitar exchange riffs and then suddenly the song explodes and Dexter starts to sing. Soon one of the best chorus's on the album pops in with Dexter singing "I can believe." This is when you start to realize The Offspring weren't always that band who writes stupid songs like Why Don't You Get a Job. The song soon abruptly ends very suddenly. Anyways, Crossroads keeps this album going.
Next possibly the weirdest (serious) Offspring song ever, Demons (A Mexican Fiesta), kicks in with some drums and bass. The song seems fine or normal at first, but than Dexter's "singing" or more talking I might say seems to ruin the song. Then the worst chorus on the albums arrives. Next the song changes pace with a new riff, but again Dexter refuses to sing and that bad chorus comes in again with a sudden ending. This is the weirdest and worst song on the album and in my opinion the only bad one. Now the next song Beheaded brings some laughs. Beheaded is a good song about going around and chopping everyone's heads off, a joke song but great all the same. It was written by Dexter with a friend who was The Offspring's first drummer.
Now this might be the point in which you think the album is going to go down hill, but really it stays strong with the next beautiful song, Tehran, (which is the capital of Iran.) Tehran starts with some amazing bass work which the rest of the band follows into a great about a minute intro. Then Dexter jumps in with a short verse that leads possibly to the highlight of the album with a wonderful chorus. This song is truly a masterpiece. It is about conflicts with the U.S. and Iran the U.S. was having when this song was written. Soon the next song, A Thousand Days, arrives with a great and catchy riff and one of my favorite lines off the album, "ask me no questions and I will tell you no lies," it's not that creative, but I like how it fits with the song. This song is more of an average song off the album. Though it is still very good, there is nothing very different or unique about it. It is still a great punky song and diffidently another song that makes this album surprisingly good for a debut.
Following A Thousand Days, Blackball starts with a riff exchanged with the drums which leads into a fast moving song with more great lyrics. The great thing about this song is that everything fits so well. Dexter moves from verse to chorus without you even noticing with great drumming that moves the song along nicely. The song has the usual soft bridge that builds up into another verse with the band yelling "Blackball!" Soon enough the songs ends with the chorus. This song is certainly a favorite off the album. Now I'll be Waiting comes in in a rather slow pace with kinda a neat guitar solo. Soon the speed changes into another fast moving punk song with some with some weird singing that is more like talking before a good chorus. This song is another great addition to this album.
Overall, this a very unique album for The Offspring and is unlike anything they have done or probably will do in the future. So if you love The Offspring and Ignition or Smash, give this one a try. It may not be as catchy as songs from Americana, but it certainly is another great addition to The Offspring's many albums. You might like the album or you might no, you might agree with my opinions or you might disagree, but either way this album shows The Offspring are really a fairly talented band and are capable of making true punk rock songs.
Recommended Tracks (there is really one I wouldn't recommend, but I'll just list my very favorite)
Jennifer Lost the war
Out on Patrol
Flea is Godly