The Offspring have never been a great band. Their first record was, at best, okay and their hit single “Keep ‘Em Separated” got its main riff from the song “Panty Raid” by New York Hardcore icons Murphy’s Law. Outside of that little bump, The Offspring were not great but they were not offensive. This was punk rock for the food court kids; the kids who thought rebellion started and ended with a flannel shirt and Doc Marten boots. Offspring desperately tried to adhere to some kind of punk ethos but nobody bought it. Not being able to get any kind of punk respect, The Offspring turned their attention to becoming radio friendly unit shifters.
Nine albums in and The Offspring still amount to very little outside of the kind of alt-rock that the Foo Fighters do but with actual talent behind it. The Offspring’s newest album, Days Go By, is a collection of by-the-numbers anthems and easy lyrical content about the good in life. Everything with this record is easy. It’s easy to digest, easy to sing along to and easy to forget. Halfway through the album I was trying to remember what the first song sounded like but couldn’t. It’s rare an album becomes forgettable before it is even finished.
“Days Go By”, the big radio single, is a catchy little number complete with a big guitar sound, a cool hook and vocalist Dexter Holland’s easy California voice pouring through lyrics about life and loss. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with the tune, there’s also nothing definitive about it. This could be Dave Grohl singing or the guys from Blink 182 or any other band you’d find at your average college sports bar. The worst part for The Offspring is this is the best song on the album.
“Turning To You” is a boring break-up song; “Cruising California” is the “Pretty Fly For A White Guy” of the album except it’s not funny at all. Instead it comes across like a joke band who is way too caught up in how clever they are. “All I Have Left Is You” is a clunker ballad that grinds any momentum Days Go By has to a complete stop. Even the fast “punk” jams like “Dividing By Zero” or the embarrassingly titled “Slim Pickens Does The Right Thing And Rides The Bomb To Hell” (ha ha, woo, boy, these guys are some clever dudes) miss the mark. I’d say The Offspring were just phoning this one in except that all their records sound like this.
The Offspring never found a place in 90s alt-rock and they haven’t grown musically enough to find a place in this era. As the last note of Days Go By rings out, the album slips from your mind completely. The only people I can see getting excited over this record are either fans who love whatever The Offspring do or the grunge frat kid who is now in the throes of a bad midlife crisis. I can see those people blasting Days Go By at top volume and finding real merit in the songwriting. The rest of us will just shrug and say “Oh really? I didn’t know they were still a band” or we just won’t care at all.