Release Date: 08.19.2003
Record label: Hellcat Records
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.
The Last (and Maybe the Best) Gang in Town
by: matt cibula
It's okay to like Rancid now. It used to be completely uncool on a lot of levels-they were too poppy and didn't play REAL punk music, they owed too heavy a debt to the Clash and the Specials and the Jam and all their favorite groups, Tim Armstrong's British accent was completely fabricated and pretentious for a California boy, etc. These haters always admitted that "Ruby Soho" was kind of a dope song, and that Armstrong and Lars Frederiksen were probably really really nice sincere punk-loving guys and all, but pointed out that we only knew about it because the video was on MTV and the song was on the radio. The radio? Ew.
There was kind of a backlash against Rancid then, especially as they started to show their roots a little more. It wasn't huge, it wasn't major, but suddenly no one was talking about them hardly at all. This coincided with the rise of rap-rock and pop-punk and emo, three musics that owed more to groups like Rancid and Green Day than anyone would ever admit. Which is why the haters were astounded when Rancid came back harder on their 2000 self-titled album, proving that they were still around and still trying their ass off to make fun loud music with positive political lyrics. This beat the punk-poppers at their own game by being a) good and b) fun.
Well, those haters are gonna hate Indestructible even more, because these 19 songs just fly off the disc and into the heart. Some of these tunes are just flat-out burners like the title track, which sounds like a sweeter Motorhead at times, and "Out of Control," which is straight out of LA Punk 101; some are more influenced by reggae and two-tone ska ("Red Hot Moon," "Back Up Against the Wall"); some are punk-pop all the way; some sound just exactly like hair metal. Hell, there's even a slow piano-fueled ballad called "Arrested in Shanghai," which makes a slow jam for radical punk couples to lick each others' piercings to. (Hey, punks need love too.)
But diversity is not what makes this such a great record-for that, we have to turn to Rancid's commitment to its audience and its music. This is, to a large part, an album informed by loss; Armstrong's relationship ending forms the basis for "Tropical London," with its chorus of "If you lose me, you lose a good thing / I know that for sure", and "Otherside" is a weeper from Fredericksen to his dead brother Robert. But it's also a record full of faith in friends ("If I fall back down, you're gonna pick me back up again") and in the power of music ("Punk rock was my way out / It was always in my blood"). They believe that they can change things in this world, just like their hero "the great Joe Strummer," and that's what the music sounds like.
Brett Gurewitz' production needs a special mention here, because this is one of the cleanest-sounding grimy records you're ever going to hear, somehow timeless and immediate at the same time. The guitars bludgeon the ears without burning them, Brett Reed's drums have grunge shadings but all-punk roots, and the singers' voices are right up there in your business. The guitar layers on "David Courtney" should win someone something, and the new wave punch on "Born Frustrated" (they even do "Hey! Hey! Hey!" things like the Romantics!) is retro-fun and utterly funky.
So so what if the lyrics are way too uplifting for real punks? And so what if that British accent thing just drives a fellow insane after a little while? (It's impossible to understand what the 'ell they're talking about on several songs, which is why it's good that the lyric booklet is so complete. It even gives background on each song, which is bonus.) And so what if we edge into self-help/cornball territory on a couple of songs? It sounds great, it's fun when it's not being intense and vice versa, and it proves that some people out there somewhere really care about what they're doing, and that that is an important thing.
Plus, it rocks the fuck out. 27-Sep-2003 1:31 PM