Rancid never win any points for originality, but originality isn't their goal. Rancid want to be, to quote an old Clash slogan, "the only band that matters." Where the Clash earned that title by mixing genres, blending the old with the new, Rancid decide to be traditional, spiking the Clash's sound with ska-punk and hardcore. Musically, that might not make the group vital in 1998, since it ignores any musical innovations since 1978, but that doesn't mean the group is impotent -- far from it. Life Won't Wait, the group's fourth album, is a powerful slice of old-school punk -- as powerful as any of their records. Apart from a more pronounced ska influence, it actually sounds a lot like its immediate predecessor, And out Come the Wolves, complete with the fiery intensity and catchy hooks that set the group apart from the retro-punk pack. Life Won't Wait, however, also shares the messy, pseudo-epic pretensions that hampered its predecessor. Taken in small doses, the record is quite powerful, but since the group's attack is fairly predictable, even with the detours into ska/reggae and blues, the album becomes wearing when taken as a whole. Still, Rancid are head and shoulders above their punk contemporaries -- they have better songs, a genuine political stance, and raging energy -- and that makes such indulgences tolerable. Even if it runs too long, there won't be a better old-school punk album than Life Won't Wait in 1998.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine