Sound — 8
This latest album is a great display of why The Offspring are a step above a lot of modern bands. The album contains edgy punk-rock tracks, some straight up hard rock and catchy pop-punk tunes, all intertwined with the vibrancy and energy that fans typically associate with The Offspring and se the band apart from others. You can tell that the band have matured emotionally and the guys try to incorporate it with their music, yet still draw back to their roots and older sounding material to prove to long time fans that "we can still rock as hard as we did, but we fancied trying something new too". This is an album that takes multiple listens to get used to. Indeed, on first listen the ballad-esque songs do detract from the overall tempo and are instrumentally simple, but they are powerful through the lyrics, which takes more than one listen to take it all in and get used to the mood of the song. Some songs you really have to be in "the mood" to listen to (for me "Kristy Are You Doing Okay?" and "Nothingtown") but by no means do they spoil the album completely. Notable mentions: Trust In You - sounds very much like Smash, is a typical example of the energetic punk-rock sound of the Ignition -> Ixnay period. a Lot Like Me - the first song with a significant focus on piano, the intro is just so damn dramatic. The refrains are just lovely. Stuff Is Messed Up - The Offspring meets AC/DC. Has a very bluesy-hard rock feel to it and possibly the best song on the album. Chorus of La La La's (a-la Self-Esteem, no pun intended), tongue-in-cheek dig at Hollywood lifestyle with a serious message and a great word blast at 2:37. Fix You - one of the ballad-type songs on the album. What it lacks in musical intensity compared to "A Lot Like Me", it more than makes up for with lyrical simplicity and emotion. Easily the most emotional/touching song The Offspring have written.
Lyrics — 8
Dexter's at it again. One of the most distinguishable voices in the industry, he leaves it up to the listener as to how involved he/she wants to be with the song. Most of the songs on Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace can be listened to easily however on more lyrically driven tracks (such as "Fix You"), Dexter shows it is incredibly easy to be emotional and intimate with the simplest of words. The phrase "elegance through simplicity" springs to mind. Other tracks, such as "Stuff Is Messed Up" and "Nothingtown", have seemingly sarcastic but fun lyrics, which still pack a serious punch in terms of overall message and story.
Overall Impression — 9
After a long five years The Offspring deliver their 8th studio effort and they do themselves justice, in spite of their reputation to some as a gimmicky band (Pretty Fly for a White Guy, Why Don't You Get A Job)and the combined pressures of the music industry and "true" fans. The Offspring handle this well, and manage to strike a balance between writing music for themselves and that will please fans, both old and new. My main gripe with the album is that it starts off brilliantly and then declines. However, after the emotionally intense "Fix You" at number 10, it is sometimes nice to end the album on an upbeat, poppy finish. It is nice to see Noodles back on form, there are many more solos in this album than in the previous few albums, and Dexter's refrains are top notch. Overall, a good solid album. Certainly a contender for their best album, definitely top 3. If you're expecting an all out return to punk roots, this is not the Offspring album for you. However, approaching the album with an open-mind and appreciation for the band's maturing and wanting to try something new, you'll definitely find it enjoyable and worthwhile.