The Offspring

Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace

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It's not that the Offspring sound behind the times on their eighth album, Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace -- it's that they sound disconnected from it. They may rant about George W. Bush's America and all the crass consumerism accompanying it, but they don't seem to realize that Coldplay beat them to a power ballad called "Fix You" just three years ago, offering a different melody but the same sentiment carrying the same title (to make matters worse, another of the album's power ballads, "A Lot Like You," opens with a surge straight out of "Clocks"). They snipe at dance beats on "You're Gonna Go Far, Kid," not quite caring that the alienated adolescents who comprise the core of their audience now don't quite care whether anybody puts disco in their punk or not. This sideswipe at dance -- complete with a "dance f***er dance" chorus -- is par for the course for the Offspring, who always seems to get a neo-novelty tune out of some rhythm or fad they don't like, so things haven't changed, which is part of the problem, as the band operates in a bubble. Nothing changes their attitude or their attack, as they still favor frenzied downstroked guitars and shout-along choruses that have the inevitable effect of having all the songs kind of blend together. Still, the Offspring can't quite hide the passing of time, as they start to drift into power ballads and angsty anthems like "Kristy, Are You Doing Okay?," which feels tailor-made for a CW TV show. Such softening of their stance illustrates that it's impossible to avoid maturity, but the band would be better off injecting some maturity within the music, finding a different rhythm outside of its pummeling eighth notes, or maybe mustering a protest deeper than "S*** is F***** UP." Without this kind of maturity, the Offspring wind up offering plenty of rage but not much grace.

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