Review Summary: Welcome to Americana. Please make your selection, followed by the pound sign, now.
In 1997, The Offspring released their fourth album, Ixnay on the Hombre
, which flopped in comparison to their third album, the 6x Platinum-selling Smash
. For their fifth album, Americana
, they decided to change things up by going with a more pop sound to get better sales, and it shows. Americana
went 5x Platinum, and gave The Offspring their first two charting singles on the Billboard Hot 100.
's success was largely due to its poppier sound. In fact, the three most poppy songs, "Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)", "She's Got Issues" and "Why Don't You Get a Job"", were all singles. The latter is probably the most tolerable, although it clearly rips off The Beatles "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da" (which is ironic, considering the song antagonizes people who mooch off of others). However, the same cannot be said for the others. "Pretty Fly" is the song that most fans ditched the band for, as it was essentially the joke song of the album. From the very beginning, you can tell that this was a song meant for radio play. The band that was so eloquently singing about changing the world and the meaning of life one album ago are now singing about relationship issues and a wannabe wigger.
The middle of the album is just filler, from "Feelings" to "The End of the Line". "Feelings" has Dexter Holland's vocals at his nasally and most annoying, and is apparently a parody-cover of a 70s song with the same name by Morris Albert. Instead of the lyrics being a cheesy love song about how he can't "forget his feelings of love", it becomes a ***-you song, with lyrics like "Feelings like I never liked you / Feelings like I want to kill you". "Walla Walla" is essentially nothing but a pop version of "Smash", and "The End of the Line" is too ordinary to be anything special, the safest track of the album.
The Offspring's punk spirit luckily isn't completely drained, though. Tracks like "Staring At the Sun" or "The Kids Aren't Alright" are full of energy and passion, along with addictive riffs and great lyrics. The former is about fitting in, and the latter is about how innocent kids turn into potheads and suicidal teenage moms. Guitar solos are still present in this album, and so are distinctive bass lines.
's success was the stepping stone for The Offspring's later work, most notably the ***fest Conspiracy of One
, which had the Americana
-esque "Want You Bad". Since then, every Offspring album had an Americana
-influenced song. This album also influenced many of the pop-punk bands of the early 2000s, for better or worse. The poppier elements and the filler really drag down the album, but there still are a handful of fast punk jams. It may not be The Offspring's best album, but it's one of their better releases.