Music for your 15-year-old brother

By Tim D'Avis

Arizona Daily Wildcat

In the wake of Green Day's rise to the top of the pops, no band has received more hype and more push from the industry than Green Day's cartoon-bulldog Berkeley neighbors, Rancid. After all, Rancid has two former members of Operation Ivy, the band that Billie Joe Armstrong (front man for Green Day) cites as his inspiration for starting a band. Couple that with the fact that Billie Joe co-wrote a song with Rancid on one of their previous singles, and we're talking connections on a Blind Melon/Axl Rose kind of level. With the event of Rancid's third album And Out Come the Wolves, this quartet of cowhide-clad toughs from northern California seems poised for a measurable degree of success. It's too bad they suck.

The problem isn't simply the music. By and large, this is fairly inoffensive ska-tinged "punk" rock. It's formulaic to a fault singer Tim "Lint" Armstrong's baby-talk-cum-Elmer Fudd vocal stylings interspersed with big sing-along choruses grows tiresome past the eighth track, and that's the halfway mark for the album. Taken individually, nearly any of these songs could make a strong single, but taken as a whole it fails to provide any sort of coherent feel.

In fact, Rancid as a band fail to produce any coherence, because they're all image. Men pushing thirty in spikes, leather, combat boots and chains . it's all marketing despite the punk posturing. Rancid writes songs for your fifteen year-old brother. Find me artistic merit or a proper sense of grammar in their lyrics, such as in the song "Maxwell Murder": "His rules are never fair/Nobody want to look back." Ugh. Punk no die. This is the kind of band whose fans use "dude" as a qualifier when describing their sound.

Rancid's sound is summed up in not one, but two words: THE CLASH. Except that The Clash had a bit more integrity, a few more tempos and at least one or two good albums. On Wolves first single, Rancid unashamedly lift hooks and style from Joe Strummer and company, and spend the rest of the album wishing they were a bit more anthemic and British. As far as the musicianship goes, it's solid but not superb, with the exception of bassist Matt Freeman who may be a bit too good for the rest of the band. His twelve-notes-per-second bass solo on "Maxwell Murder" sounds less like punk or ska than it does adrenaline-induced polka music. Apart from that, there is hardly a shining moment, save for the pristine production and the fact that "Lint" managed to pronounce a few words correctly this time.

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