‘Americana’ by The Offspring was an important album for me. At the time of its release I was a kid mostly listening to whatever rubbish ‘Top of the Pops’ told me was good. I got the album off the chart success of its two lead singles and listened to it constantly. It really was the first album on which I liked every track. Not long afterwards I bought up their entire back catalogue.
In recent years they don’t seem to have been up to a great deal, occasionally reappearing with a new album after 4 or 5 year intervals, none of which have had much impact. They’re back again this year with ‘Days Go By’.
The record kicks off in fine style with ‘The Future is Now’ and ‘Secrets from the Underground’, both very good examples of their sound for the past decade or so – polished radio-ready rock songs still retaining a good element of their punk rock roots.
Unfortunately it then veers considerably further toward the ‘radio rock’ side with the dull title track before picking up a bit again with the following two tracks.
Then the album plunges down to new depths for the band with ‘Cruising California (Bumping in my Trunk)’, which is like a dance-pop song with rapped verses. Apparently it’s supposed to be some kind of parody of current chart music, which in some ways it works as, but whether your song it awful intentionally or not it’s still awful. It doesn’t get a great deal better afterwards with a very ill-advised venture into power ballad territory followed by the terrible ‘OC Guns’, a sort-of ska song with Latin horns and sections in Spanish.
Some energy is gained by a re-recorded version of ‘Dirty Magic’, which originally appeared on ‘Ignition’. One could easily slate an artist for re-recording old songs for new records but it doesn’t seem like this was done out of laziness. It’s not hugely different from the original, adding heavier guitars and some backing vocals but it was a great song in 1992 and it’s still one now. This is followed by ‘I Wanna Secret Family’ which is very catchy despite its lyrics.
They do, however, save the best for last. Excellent penultimate track ‘Dividing by Zero’ is the only new song that sounds just like their older material, and closer ‘Slim Pickens Does the Right thing and Rides the Bomb to Hell’ is utterly awesome and quite possible the best song they’re written in over 10 years.
So a very solid start and an excellent finish, but a bit of filler and a couple of horrors.