Americana – The Offspring

Album cover

Album cover

The Offspring were one of those bands that, as a kid, you had to listen to them quietly with your door shut so your parents wouldn’t hear the swearing.  And that made them so much more fun to listen to.  It was that great young age where you were just learning the fun words to say not around adults, except the fun ones.  As long as you didn’t accidentally sing the lyrics around your parents, they didn’t find the CD, or hear you, you were set.  So, Americana, the album that had, arguably, their biggest mainstream hit, songs in video games, and those wonderful four letter words that were so taboo.

Americana starts off with a nine second intro that sounds like the Microsoft Sam voice, and then the actual songs start.  First up is Have You Ever, and we can tell the mood that the band wants to set, right away, as the tempo of the drums and guitar speeds up into Dex’s vocals.  Back when I was a kid listening to this album, I didn’t realize that the lyrics were somewhat angsty, but now I really don’t care because of course this album brings on a lot of nostalgia.  So this song really has two parts, with a drum fill in the middle that sounds like marching.  The slower second part comes in, and I actually prefer it to the first part.  Dex busts out a sad truth about the world, and how we all want to make a difference.

The cymbal crashes lead right into Staring at the Sun, and right away the guitar riff comes in that typical 90’s fashion, but to me, it’s awesome.  This song is a great, up-tempo song that I really love listening to.  It’s a great song to run to, or drive to.  And holy hell, it has a good message, too!  It’s all about realizing that “There’s more to life than only survivin’” and that you shouldn’t be brought down by others, or more specifically the fire in their eyes as they’re staring at the sun.

Ok, if you don’t recognize this song with the gibberish intro, or the drum rolls, you are either ten years old, or you were living in the middle of the f*cking desert in the late 90’s.  Everybody knows Pretty Fly (For a White Guy), and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  It is a really good song, but every white kid in the burbs, myself included, thought they were a badass because of this song.  Then, when we heard the Weird Al parody, we all laughed our asses off.  Of course, he was another burby white trend altogether.  So yeah, back to Offspring… the simple guitar riff really has a lot of energy in this song, and Dex’s vocals are of course just as energetic as they always are.  This song really is one of the dopest trips.

The Kids Aren’t Alright.  If we had realized what The Offspring were actually singing about in this song when we were kids, we would have really f*cked up ideas about how our futures would all turn out.  But it really does make you think about people you grew up with and how you expected their lives to turn out, and in some cases how they just kinda fizzled and became nothings.  But on the song itself, it’s the usual driving guitar, catchy drum beats, and passionate vocals we’ve come to expect from The Offspring.  The fact that its business as usual might make it lost in the flow of the album, but I still find myself singing along nearly every time I hear it.

Feelings was one of those songs that we’d always hit the next track button on.  It didn’t have that vibe we wanted when we played this CD loud before our parents home.  We wanted to be able to jump around, tweak out on sugar, and just generally be energetic kids.  While the guitar really appeals to me now, back then I wasn’t really listening to music in the same way I am now.  The riff itself isn’t that complex, but is fun, and the solo and end wankery give sort of a classic rock-y feel to it that seems to change the dynamic.  In my opinion, although it’s still a good song, Feelings really is the low point of the album.

She’s Got Issues, a song that followed a trend that would be seen much more on later Offspring albums:  talking about girls and having problems with them.  This is a slower paced song as far as The Offspring go, but it still keeps up with the rest of the album.  It’s definitely an improvement over Feelings, but this song seems a little out of place on this album.

Aha, now the album picks back up with a song that was featured in Crazy Taxi 2, and found some radio popularity as well.  Walla Walla is back in true Offspring form:  fast paced, simple guitar riff leading the charge, catchy drums, and Dex with high-energy vocals.  And would you look at that, another song with a positive message!  Something about not stealing or else you’re going to jail, I think.  Ironic how parents flipped out about the “foul language” when some of their songs have positive messages, but that’s the world we’re living in.  It’s not what you say, but all about how you say it that matters.

More driving guitar, kicking drums are apparent right away on The End of the Line.  Although, Dex’s singing seems rather low key, at least for him, during the verses, he picks it up a hell of a lot in the choruses.  Once those hit, its back into true form for him.  We even get a slight break with a bass solo in this song!  But don’t worry, Dex comes back, followed shortly thereafter by the guitar and drums, and we roll on through to the end of the song.

So we’re back playing Crazy Taxi 2 again on the next track, No Brakes.  I’m going to just say this right away.  I f*cking love this song.  It’s classic Offspring for me; guitar leading the charge, drums backing up, and Dex yelling his goddamn head off and swearing like a sailor.  Oh yeah, and if you’ve ever played a Crazy Taxi game, you know it fits the tone of the game pretty well too.

There’s not much to say about the next song that I didn’t say about Pretty Fly (For a White Guy).  If you don’t know this song, you were under a rock, or you’re too young.  A slow paced song, but really, who doesn’t love Why Don’t You Get a Job?  Everyone can relate; a friend with a girl/boyfriend who is just a mooch, and you try to help them out, to no avail.  Again, not really much to say here, since pretty much everyone knows every lyric to this song.

So the third, and final, song from this album in Crazy Taxi 2, and it’s also the name of the album.  Americana starts off with a big buildup, where we can get a lead in with drums, guitar, bass… hell, even Dex has something to say here.  But once the song hits the ground, it starts running, and boy does it ever.  The pace just picks up, and you feel ready to kick some ass.  We hear all about Dex’s tongue-in-cheek, stereotypical vision of America, and if you don’t like it, well, to use his own words “Well, f*ck you!”

And then we arrive at the album closer, Pay the Man.  We are greeted with a sitar-y sounding guitar intro and a fairly slow song until about the 5 minute mark, where we realize we’re listening to The Offspring, and we’re here to kick some ass.  While the tempo itself doesn’t pick up too much, the general pace of the song just feels like it does.  And then they do something that is sometimes annoying:  add in silence before there’s some kinda bonus stuff at the end of the album.  Thankfully, it isn’t that much of it and the stuff at the end is pretty funny actually.  We get a mariachi band, and The Offspring making fun of their own big hit years before Weird Al did.  But to be honest, I personally think the album could have ended with Americana, and I’d have been entirely content with it.

So overall, Americana is my favorite offering from The Offspring, in part due to the kickass tunes, in part from the nostalgia I get from listening to it.  It has a few songs that I don’t necessarily care for, but overall, the album is very strong and more than makes up for them. page

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2 Responses to “Americana – The Offspring”

  1. This is still one of my favorite albums from my teenage years. Not one song I don’t like on this album.

  2. Nice review! gets all the good parts, and none of the bad cause there pretty much were no bad parts.

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