Days Go By, The Offspring’s ninth studio album, is disappointingly uneven, a trend that’s come to represent their output over the past decade or so. It is, however, stronger than their past two records.
The record is bookended by four of the best songs they’ve written in years – “The Future is Now” and “Secrets from the Underground” are a full-on return to the band’s early So*Cal punk days, while “Dividing By Zero” and “Slim Pickens Does the Right Thing and Rides the Bomb to Hell” have an energy and urgency that many might not have expected from the guys at this point in their career.
The album’s middle portion, though, drags the whole thing down, the band’s stubborn reliance on silly throwaway songs souring the mood.
Considering that Days Go By comes four years after the band’s successful (if dull) Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace, the brief return to aggressive punk moods on a few of these songs is surprising. Sadly, other songs range from the vapid and insufferable “Cruising California (Bumpin’ In My Trunk)”, to the annoying “OC Guns” (a Latin-themed reggae/ska exercise allowing front man Dexter Holland to shout swear words in Spanish) even venturing into power pop with the Fountains of Wayne-ish “I Wanna Secret Family (With You)”.
Lowlights aside, the high points of Days Go By are pretty solid. For some reason, they decided to re-record the old song “Dirty Magic”, and the new version sounds full and crisply produced. “Turning into You” boasts one of the album’s best hooks, while “Hurting as One” features the type of background vocals used so well on albums like 1994’s Smash.
If you break it down, 7 of the 12 songs here are good enough to be called “highlights”, with the aforementioned unnecessary ones cluttering it up a bit. I’ll be honest, you can’t really expect much else from the Offspring now – they’ve been a band for so long, it’s hard to continue to improve with age in this genre.
Sure, “Slim Pickens…” sounds like Bad Religion’s “Infected”. Okay, maybe the title track veers too close to “Times Like These” by the Foo Fighters. Big deal. This band hasn’t ever really been that innovative, especially after hitting MTV gold with 1998’s Americana.
At this point, you have to just take the good with the bad, and Days Go By is a mixed bag – the good is a refreshing return to form, while the bad is as cheesy as it’s always been.
ALBUM RATING: 2.5 Stars (out of five)