Friday, November 25, 2016

REVIEW: THE OFFSPRING'S "SMASH"

Smash is the third full-length album from American punk-rockers The Offspring. Though it was released on an independent label, it quickly rose to the fame and prestige of the hottest punk-rock acts and helped to cement the revival of the overall punk-rock industry. What does Smash have, though, that these other punk bands couldn’t replicate?

The Content:

Smash is one of those punk albums that feels right at home.

As someone who’s, admittedly, never listened to The Offspring whilst being a lifelong punk-rock fan, Smash feels like a breath of fresh air as it simultaneously calls back to other punk-rock acts of the era.

Smash begins with spoken-word, smooth jazz-esque narration that ironically segues into the ever-classic power chords that feel synonymous with punk-rock. While this concept separates Smash from its peers of the era, the actual music holds up well against the likes of Green Day and NOFX. Meanwhile, vocals in tracks like Bad Habit feel reminiscent of blink-182, who would explode in popularity five years after Smash’s release. The playful riffs and lyrics from What Happened To You? could’ve come straight from a NOFX album.

Yet with the vocals and instrumentals serving as both a callback and a herald of acts to come, the album still does a sufficient job of standing out on its own. The introduction to Come Out And Play (the album’s leading single) features a smooth drum intro that’s starkly different from other 90s punk anthems.

Perhaps my only gripe with Smash is its lack of…hook, I suppose? Smash doesn’t have that one amazing song that draws me back to the album, nor does it have the cohesiveness of a great, classic storytelling album to really wow me. That’s not to say Smash isn’t a good album – the musicality of it is solid, for sure. But, Smash didn’t necessarily inspire me to check out any more of their work, or dig deeper into the meanings and technicalities of the album.

Despite this, it’s easy to see how Smash rose to popularity. With its similarity to other punk tunes of the day, it fits right in with the revival of the punk-rock scene.

The Impact:
While Smash (and, on a larger stage, The Offspring as a whole) may not be as mainstream as punk-counterparts Green Day, it’s mark on the punk-rock scene of the 1990s is still visible to this day.

Smash would go on to peak at #4 on the Billboard Top 200 and sell over 11 million copies worldwide, making it the highest-selling album of all time on an independent label. The album, along with Green Day’s Dookie, NOFX’s Punk In Drublic, and Rancid’s …And Out Come The Wolves, is credited for having revived the punk industry during the mid-1990s.

The sudden fame that The Offspring saw as a result of Smash was unexpected, to say the least. Guitarist Kevin Wasserman, who goes by the nickname of “Noodles”, still worked at a janitor at his local elementary school months after the album had skyrocketed in sales.

“Up until that moment I didn't really think any of our bands would truly break through,” said Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz. “We had some groups on Epitaph that were bigger than others, but none of them had ever crossed over into mainstream acceptance. Not even close. What the Offspring did was leapfrog over everybody.”

The Future:

The Offspring’s most recent album, Days Go By, was released in 2012. It was the first album from The Offspring to feature drummer Pete Parada, who joined with the band in 2007.

Currently, the band is in the studio working on their tenth full-length studio album, which will be released sometime in 2017.


Next week’s review: Yellowcard’s “Ocean Avenue”

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