Album cover for The Offspring Let the Bad Times Roll

Album Review: The Offspring – Let the Bad Times Roll

“Is this the yelling band?”

“No.”

“They sound like the yelling band.”

“It’s Social Distortion. You’re thinking of The Offspring.”

“Yes. They yell through their songs. It seems like he needs a cup of hot tea.”

You have just read an oft conversation I have with my wife whenever she confuses The Offspring with any other band, usually Social Distortion, she perceives as yelling the the lyrics.

In many respects most bands probably yell or at least the singer raisers his or her voice when in the recording studio but The Offspring singer Dexter Holland indeed has a yelling tone to his vocal style which not only suits him well but helps the band stand out from others. At least others with yelling singers.

Well Holland isn’t about to change what works (and continue my wife’s confusion) but do expect a bit more range and some serious heads up rock music for The Offspring’s 10th album Let The Bad Times Roll out April 16th as the Orange County alternative punk rockers return after a near decade long absence from their last studio album.

The Offspring hit the charts for their third album Smash in 1994 which produced a number of singles that continue to get airplay today. Mostly avoiding the fall that sometimes comes with a chart topping high, The Offspring retained relative popularity by releasing albums every few years thereafter producing more hit singles and fan  favorites in their own right.

Their last album, the rather unappreciated Days Gone By (probably because it followed the mediocre Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace) felt more contemplative in tone with a bit of maturity compared to their overtly fun and near comical previous tracks like “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)” and “Original Prankster.”  Yet, while they still showed their embrace of youthful hijinks on “Cruising California,” arguably after nine albums – including their seemingly forgotten straight up punk rock debut release – perhaps The Offspring needed a sabbatical of sorts to get out of the more of the same rut or maybe just allow time for Holland to finish his PhD in molecular biology, which he did in 2017.

A bit of a new look for The Offspring as the core of the band, intact since the beginning, broke apart a couple of years ago as bassist Greg. K had a falling out with Holland and guitarist Kevin “Noodles” Wasserman. Todd Morse replaced Greg K. on bass and Pete Parada remains behind the kit as he has since 2008.

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The Offspring Let The Bad Times Roll Album Review

Coming in on the shorter side of previous albums, the 12 song, 33 minute Let the Bad Times Roll features two short fillers and an outstanding remake of “Gone Away” a near tear-jerker of a song that appeared on 1997’s Ixnay on the Hombre.

OK, now stop what you’re doing.

Go listen to “Gone Away.” Grab a Kleenex first.

AWESOME.

Congratulations Dexter Holland and The Offspring for this exceptional piano remake of one of their already best songs that shows heart, soul, pain and emotion as Holland delivers a peerless vocal performance, calling out for the girlfriend he lost so long ago in a car accident. I listened to this five times in a row.

Damn you The Offspring for that lump in the throat!

Well, that’s it. Really no point to reviewing the rest of Let The Bad Times Roll. I just want to listen to the “Gone Away” remake.

Pause.

Let The Bad Times Roll is a really good album. Short on songs, that’s fine, because more than a handful here (should) bring The Offspring back into the mainstream and push this album into platinum status.

“This Is Not Utopia” gets things started with a faced pace rocker reminiscent of their debut album of classic 80s punk songs. The title track is one of the catchiest songs I’ve heard in a long time. The chorus will get stuck in your head for a while. The Offspring produce another solid alternative rock ballad in “Behind Your Walls” as Holland shows some excellent vocal range.

“Army of One” starts with a “Runnin’ Down a Dream” vibe before getting into usual The Offspring tempo and tone. An upbeat and melodic track with that early punk sound infused into the chorus. The fast paced “Breaking These Bones” led by some skipping Parada drums gets Noodles wailing on the guitar too. Another fun track.

“Coming For You” was released a while back and finally gets the official album release. An anthem of sorts and no doubt kills live. Not the best song off the album but really no bad songs on this record exist however “Coming For You” could have been on any one of their previous albums, if that helps explain it.

A fun entry in “We Never Have Sex Anymore” that (should) develop into a quintessential The Offspring song along with their other smirk makers. The big band approach to this one works wonders.  Interesting to watch the progression of bands that last a few decades. At one time, Holland was moaning about a girl using him in the early days now he laments, in The Offspring like candor, (probably) about married life.

“In the Hall of the Mountain King” offers a fun but after a few runs skippable take on the Edvard Greig peice from 1878 that has Noodles and Parada playing the main melody over and over but faster and faster. “The Opiod Diaries” delivers another quick-paced pitch with enough diversity to prevent this one from being “just another The Offspring song.” The tempo change midway works well. “Hasson Chop” has Holland in fine yelling form in a song remindful of their early days showing they haven;t lost touch wit the roots or their sense of humor but while adding a stronger degree of dexterity.

“Gone Away” closes the main thrust of the album and I have to tell you… Oh, just go listen to it already. Finally, the short “Lullaby” finishes off Let The Bad Times Roll with the title track’s melody and chorus mostly repeated over a slow guitar puck strum.

The long break served The Offspring well as Let The Bad Times Roll displays variety and continuity in keeping with the band’s commitment to fun and quick paced song filled with energy but a change has begun with these now old-school rockers, an evident change, refreshing and most welcome.

Grade: A-

The Offspring Let The Bad Times Roll Songs:

  1. This Is Not Utopia
  2. Let The Bad Times Roll
  3. Behind Your Walls
  4. Army of One
  5. Breaking These Bones
  6. Coming For You
  7. We Never Have Sex Anymore
  8. In the Hall of the Mountain King
  9. The Opioid Diaries
  10. Hassan Chop
  11. Gone Away (piano version)
  12. Lullaby

5 thoughts on “Album Review: The Offspring – Let the Bad Times Roll

  1. I listened to most of this yesterday and liked what I heard. Short n sweet listen as well. Band has some good musical chops. Great writeup.

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