The band photo in the packaging for the Descendents' 2016 album Hypercaffium Spazzinate says a lot: the geeky, misfit kids who recorded the band's early triumphs are now middle-aged men, all over 50, and noticeably greyer and heftier, but most importantly looking cheerful and confident. It's a young person's birthright to wail about their lives, but what about these guys? The Descendents still have their own reasons to howl, and despite being eligible to join AARP, it still suits them. The unspoken theme of Hypercaffium Spazzinate is the ultimate inevitability of adulthood, and how it impacts your life. From the glum reality of having to watch your diet in "No Fat Burger" to the phenomenon of seeing kids get medicated out of their geekier behavior in "Limiter," these 16 songs come from the perspective of a grown-up. But despite (or perhaps because of) their maturity, these guys still clearly love the speedy charge of punk rock, and griping about the state of their world is as liberating for them today as it was in 1983. Milo Aukerman's vocals are as strong as ever, and better controlled than they were in his salad days. The hard, lean rush of Stephen Eggerton's guitar work is precise and effective, and Karl Alvarez's percolating basslines and Bill Stevenson's epic-scale drumming provide a sturdy platform for their aggressively hooky tunes. This music is taut and satisfying, and if there are plenty of pop-punk bands doing something similar these days, the Descendents fathered this sound, and they still deliver with an enthusiasm that makes all the difference. Though the Descendents are genuine adults these days, they still have troubles with women and self-image, and "Feeling This," "On Paper," "Testosterone," and "Fighting Myself" confirm that while they've learned a lot, they're still aware of what they don't know, and they aren't afraid to sing about it. And "Beyond the Music," in which they sing about the bonds of friendship that keep the band together, and "Full Circle," a celebration of California punk history, are powerful reminders of how much music still means to them. In 2016, the Descendents are playing punk rock for the same reasons they always did -- they want to, and they need to -- and the fact they can mature while sounding thoroughly like themselves makes Hypercaffium Spazzinate a welcome late-era addition to their catalog.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming