Album Reviews

The Offspring – Days Go By

on June 28, 2012, 8:00am
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Back before Bad Religion spearheaded a mid-’90s second wave of West Coast malcontents, The Offspring were going from demons and guillotines (1989’s The Offspring) to no-strings rendezvous and suicide cases in LA (1992’s Ignition), striking success around 1994’s Smash, branded the best-selling independent album of all time. More recently, however, 2008’s Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace was pseudo-political, critically eviscerated blandness that morphed The Offspring into a band that parents might have once considered hip and rebellious, now left playing “classics” playlists at half-full amphitheaters. To future generations, we are collectively sorry about “Kristy, Are You Doing Okay?”.

Fast-forward to today. The Offspring’s newest release, Days Go By, is both disjointed and mildly out of its element, containing one-third of this act’s best output since pre-Splinter by a minuscule margin at best. It’s just good old fashioned “meh.”

Seemingly unrelated to the misleadingly grim album art, each song contributes to a 12-piece ramshackle time machine. If you were anticipating their re-recording of Ignition-era artifact “Dirty Magic” or perhaps pondering a forced Dr. Strangelove reference like the one lodged in “Slim Pickens Does The Right Thing And Rides The Bomb To Hell”, you’re in luck; those tracks are the pinnacle of what Days Go By has to offer. Keen listeners might note a Rise And Fall glaze over openers “The Future Is Now” and “Secrets Of The Underground”. There’s also an Americana/Splinter vibe amidst Latin-tinged “OC Guns”, gimmicky summer tune “Cruising California (Bumpin’ In My Trunk)”, and a stripper love song (and “Hit That” throwback) “I Wanna Secret Family (With You)”. An Offspring apologist might claim this mess of a package was surprising, but anybody who’s heard “When You’re In Prison” or “Da Hui” knows better.

From observing the Offspring’s contemporaries– Green Day, for example– target audiences know that evolution has its pros and cons, the case in point being the difference between Nimrod and American Idiot. Ambitious endeavors combined with audience nostalgia are what brought the previous era’s pop rock back into resurgence in the first place. The Offspring opted to try and have a little bit of fun here, but ultimately, they fail to reach more existential fare, instead pretending that “Turning Into You” is not simply “Dammit, I Changed Again” reprised. Similarly, title track “Days Go By” serves as cookie-cutter inspirational rock circa “Can’t Repeat”, but at least it’s an uplifting placeholder in a record chock full of uninteresting “misery loves company” tidbits.

The Offspring have been in the music business for over 20 years. They’ve recruited a new drummer (again), perhaps an effort to retain some semblance of youth even as the band gets older– guitarist Kevin “Noodles” Wasserman hit 49 in February. The thing about aging is that you can either drain energy in a futile effort to deny the natural order, or you can embrace your own mortality and live like your time is running out. The Offspring are contemplating which side of the park bench they’re on, regardless of actual reality, and no CD or digital stream will make a suitable substitution for a flux capacitor. Everything on Days Go By comes across like a B-side compilation spanning their last ten years in music, without the benefit of anything remotely hit-worthy.

There are modest musical gems to be had in the tragically malnourished final mix. However, slapped smack dab in the center, “Cruising California” boldly goes where “Pretty Fly” hilariously went years ago, instead reconfigured into a non-satirical bass-bumper nobody will ever swallow with a straight face. Such keyboard-laden schlock sums up Days Go By in an undeniably pathetic and predictably disappointing nutshell: the last-ditch grasping of straws by a band whose previous exuberance became self-parody shy of Y2K, unbeknownst to whatever unwitting radio listeners felt “Original Prankster” was wickedly clever.

Getting old isn’t so bad, fellows. It comes with wisdom and true life experience. That is, unless you’re a washed-up punk rocker. Then, it comes with regrettable tattoos, some humorous tales of life on the road, and maybe a stab at a comeback album. Unfortunately for the Offspring, too many Days have gone by, and this record feels like too little, too late.

Essential Tracks: “Slim Pickens Does The Right Thing And Rides The Bomb To Hell”

18 comments

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Steven Probets
September 15, 2012 at 10:25 am

A fantastic album. Better than the previous offering. Thanks Offspring! I run my own music magazine and can safely say this is one of the worst reviews I have ever read. Totally out of touch.

Project Phantom
July 30, 2012 at 5:57 pm

I was treated to a taste of this absolutely nauseating drivel yesterday while cruising around the lake. As someone who will give anything a fair chance I was actually excited to hear this album. Unfortunately as soon as I heard what appeared to be a katy perry song sung by an aging has been with lyrics sourced from rebecca black, I had enough. Cruisin California actually made me feel embarrassed to be listening to it in public. The attempt at trying to be cholos further drove a nail into the coffin that this album (and soon all of the band members due to a near geriatric age) should be buried in. Having two gems in a crown made of shit does not a royal make and two good songs does not save this album. Die hard offspring fans defending this album to the death are probably now die hard fans of the likes of nikki minaj and nickleback. For true fans of music everywhere please skip this over and grab yourself a new copy of smash.

Rachel
July 5, 2012 at 7:33 pm

I think this is a fantastic album actually and love the direction The Offspring are taking! I cant stop watching the video for “Cruisin’ California” http://vevo.ly/MPIc4v.

Michael ? Borg
July 4, 2012 at 11:47 pm

this is why i find critics boring. nothing is ever enjoyed for what it is. everything has to be the way they believe it should be and to go about proving their point they throw every shallow cliche into the argument…. age, no longer relevant etc. Music is art first and foremost, the Offspring make music for themselves and then pass it on to their diehard fan base. That’s how it’s always been. Calling them washed up punks also contradicts your argument, because the original sentiment of punk is not caring about what other people think, so you can’t exactly be washed up if the mainstream came to you first and you never cared about them sticking around and kept making music no matter what new style was ‘hip’.

Sara M
July 3, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Thanks for the review! I think it’s an enjoyable album and anyone who takes Cruising California seriously should definitely lighten up. It’s a fun song and it had me smiling the whole time.

Pamda
June 30, 2012 at 11:59 am

I’m a pretty hardcore Offspring Fan yet I hate two of the songs on this album, however what I will say is that this album really gives me the amazing feel of their old stuff and yet we still get their new flavor. This album is actually really good but like all albums there are hit and misses. Don’t take this or any review seriously, It’s a good album

Emily
July 8, 2012 at 5:47 pm

I’m not a “hardcore Offspring Fan” but I have been attuned to their music for their 28 years in the music scene. I agree with you, I think that this album displays their old ties, as well as a bit of new flavor. “Cruisin’ California” is probably one of my favorites just because it shows their oddball sense of humor and is a good summer song.

Kenny F***ing Powers
June 30, 2012 at 7:58 am

Obviously you heard the Keith Urban album “Days Go By” or you are a complete moron. This is there best offering since Americana.
The first four songs (The Future Is Now, Secrets From The Underground, Days Go By and Turning Into You) are possibly their best opening to any album except Smash.
The remake of Dirty Magic is amazing and tailors the song to a more modern audience without affecting the original feel of the tune. Slim Pickens – as you did manage to notice – is a real highlight. All I have left is you is better compared with Denial, Revisited than Dammit I Changed Again and is a solid effort at slowing the rapid pace of the album to accommodate the slower OC Guns. Cruising California, Hurting as One and I Wanna Secret Family (With You) aren’t great but do have their moments. As for ‘joke songs’ The Offspring are renowned for being a band who can laugh at themselves and the industry in an otherwise over-serious business.
If you bothered to do any research, the band has mentioned that the theme of the album is about how the last few years have been tough for everyone (young and old) and it seems all doom and gloom but we need to continue with our lives which explains the “Seemingly unrelated [to the] misleadingly grim album art” before the conclusion Slim Pickens is supposed to say “Fuck it, if the world is going to end then we might as well enjoy what we have” – Noodles.
One last thing – the band getting a new drummer has nothing to do with appealing to a new audience. Drummers are cycled by bands all the time regardless of their popularity. – AC/DC has had at least 5 drummers and last time I checked they are pretty successful and still creating music for the same target audience for over 30 years. The Offspring are successful in their own right, As you alluded to, they own the biggest selling independent release of all time and have recently played a series of shows in Europe and Japan including the Rock Am Ring, Rock Im Park, PunkSpring, NovaRock, and Rock In Rio Lisboa to crowds of more than 100,000 – not half empty amphitheaters.
If you don’t like the album – that’s fine. But do your research before you turn others off an effort which should be commended rather than condemned.

Skeptic
June 30, 2012 at 12:46 am

I’ve been a fan since Ignition and I think this album is kind of bad. I agree with pretty much everything the reviewer said… although I like a few more of the songs than he did. I think the first two are pretty good, as is Hurting as One, the Dirty Magic remake, and the last two. I think Cruising California is particularly terrible. I always thought I was a big fan, but man, these messageboards are packed with people who will defend these guys no matter what they do. Cruising California is an embarrassing, painful mess. It isn’t funny, and it isn’t at all clear that it’s trying to be funny. It’s also really stupid.

Shaun
June 29, 2012 at 6:01 am

Mate your a joke. This a a great album. You sir can get fucked

Sean
June 29, 2012 at 12:33 am

I am a punk rock fan, as my favorite bands are Bad Religion, NOFX, and Social Distortion. I’ll admit RAFRAG was pretty bad, but this new album despite a few tracks is really good. I dont understand how any fan of rock music would disagree in thinking this album has several good tracks. The author of this review is most definitely narrow minded. I give this review 2 thumbs down

Johnny
June 28, 2012 at 11:49 pm

I thought they do a damn great Job on this album. They always have great tunes on every album that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. They never upset me. Just a few tunes I dislike. Hurting as one sounds old school. They are on of the few bands that no matter what they write. I’m so moved by the tunes!!

Lefty nick
June 28, 2012 at 11:41 pm

What do these critics expect? I have been a fan since Ignition, Smash. They have always sounded like this. There not going to show up and change Rock music or anything, but this album is good and like any Offspring record, it grows on you almost immediately. Love Future is now, Cruising California and Turning into you are good songs. You are too freaking hard on these guys! If this album sucked, I would rip it like you but remember a band that’s been around for 20 years, cannot duplicate glory like Americana and Smash every time. There are songs on Americana that suck and there are some great tunes( pretty fly by the way sucked!) give these guys a break dude!

Rinat Khaziev
June 28, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Dude, you have a lot of strong opinions, but you’re quite missing the essence. And the essence is this album has every tiny piece of Offspring’s sound that we loved all over the years. You can ramble about them being old and out of date and self-repetitive as long as you want. That doesn’t change the fact that any person who appreciated Ignition and Smash would appreciate this album.

Man, you sound like an old timer who has been here for too long to appreciate anything anymore. So may be consider Name’s proposal to do something other than album reviews? I mean, if you lived in 1963, you’d probably say that the second Beatles album is a waste and they’re done as a band.

shelbyCMR
June 28, 2012 at 5:48 pm

LOVE the new album especially the song “Cruisin’ California”. It’s a great summer jam with a really fun music video!

Name
June 28, 2012 at 11:50 am

As an Offspring fan from their very first self titled album I must say that you really do have the most warped outlook of music to date. Go look for another occupation to fulfill your “tunnel vision” opinions. DO NOT take anything in this review as accurate. Any true Offspring fan will absolutely love this album!

JM
June 28, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Basically, what you’re saying is this: if you love a band, you’ll eat anything they feed you, even if it’s shit…

Rinat Khaziev
June 28, 2012 at 9:12 pm

no dude, if it’s a decent work i’ll appreciate it, if it’s a bullshit – i’d say that they let me down and get over it. The author is clearly has a lot of strong words with no good arguments.

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