Americana

The Offspring

Sony, 1998

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/13/2004

Anti-disestablishment heroes -- well, these guys have to be commended for what they write. Rock music was always a product of the non-conformist. It doesn't matter whether you make sense or not; as long as you speak against anything, you are a rock musician. Not that there is anything wrong in being mean, but taking the attitude to blinding heights does wear off the charisma of being a leftist. On the other side, however, rock sounds its best, when it cries -- or rather rants -- over something.

Now, if you are a hardcore rocker, and are depressed of writing songs about depression, and being depressed, again and again and again, then what on earth do you do? Where on earth do you find your fuel to fire you into writing blazing tunes? Well, you need to be unhappy about something to write unhappy songs about. In such a case, you write about anti-disestablishment, and this is exactly what the boys of Offspring write. If rock sings for destruction, these guys sing for anti-destruction. This doesn't necessarily mean that they sing for construction; after all, they are rockers, too.bim_ad_daily_vault_print_250

The Offspring is a very clever band. They write meaningful, sardonic lyrics that are not only cheekily written, but also well sung, amidst the wonderfully hard punk-rock music they make. Americana is an album full of sense and humor. Unlike other rock acts, they don't despair over how bad the world has been to them, but instead laugh out loud over the things which we so deliberately do wrong. Each song comes out with a new way of laughing over the frivolity and stupidity of mankind, and its "culture."

The Offspring has a fantastic sense of humor. A few of Americana's songs really make one laugh, with their oozing sarcasm, and the zest and the shamelessness with which the band presents them. "Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)", for instance, about a white wannabe in his search for "cool," with its absolutely hilarious lyrics is made more inane and laughable by the quirky sound effects which the band has so seriously added. Also, plain rock songs like "She's Got Issues," about the plights of having a girlfriend, and "Walla Walla," about a guy's perpetual love for stealing, are as sarcastic as the band can get; and who can forget the ingenuous "Why Don't You Get A Job?" with a reggae twist, just to keep life more interesting.

As clever as the band is in being humorous, it is equally clever in writing the more serious songs of Americana. Again, they are not serious about how depressing their lives have been; they are serious about how life can go wrong. The opening track, "Have You Ever," is a straightforward song about the days or the period of time in life through which one passes during which nothing goes right. "The Kids Aren't Alright" is another hard-hitting song about how youth can go absolutely wrong. Probably one of the best songs of the album, "Americana" -- about the pop culture of today -- is a perfect example of The Offspring's anti-disestablishment attitude, in which Dexter Holland so aptly sings, "…now give me my cable, fast food, four-by's, that's right away, I want it right now 'cause my generation don't like to wait."

With Americana, and with The Offspring itself, it may seem as if punk has gone pop. This band may not be the hardcore antagonizing punk outfit, but this doesn't mean that it has no spunk at all. It knows exactly how to channel its anger, and at the same time be sensible. Unlike a lot of other rock outfits, these guys are straightforward and unpretentious. Americana is a clever, sarcastic, clean punk-rock album, and an excellent one.

Rating: B

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© 2004 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sony, and is used for informational purposes only.