Improvement is a natural progression that shifts as a function of time. Most artists tend to improve as they gain experience by writing songs and touring. However, this is not true for The Offspring. The band’s latest attempt, Splinter, is artistically and creatively not worth the plastic on which it is inscribed.
The album is something you would find on the shelves of a Spencer Gift Store next to the rack with practical joke toys. But with this seventh album in the bag, The Offspring somehow manages to ride the mainstream wave to prove their formulaic success theorem correct: No talent * 4 + shallow lyrics + obnoxious bursts of oohs and yeahs = record sales.
No doubt about it, The Offspring was cool in the early ’90s when grunge was just checking out. But now it’s time for a reality check; 36-year-old singer Dexter Holland is just too old to be competing for the ears of middle school kids who still lack the mental capacity to make decisions independently from MTV.
The album begins with “Neocon,” a clichÃ© fight song anthem that is designed to supply the listener with a high dose of motivation needed to make it past the first couple tracks. “We are strong, we are right/ We will fight/ We will never lose to you” are the words of revelation. “Neocon” is clearly targeting middle school adolescents who find themselves overwhelmed with the struggle and hardships of teenage reality.
“Race Against Myself” is the best song on the album. The driving riffs, flying octave chords and patient drum beat give the song a satisfying feeling that was present in some of the band’s more respected pieces but has been forgotten ever since the band decided to produce pre-pubescent novelty songs like “Pretty Fly for a White Guy.”
“I was sick all night/ I will never drink again/ This is the worst hangover ever” are the inspiring lyrics from “The Worst Hangover Ever,” the most annoying and hollow song on the album. It seems that after 15 years of collaboration The Offspring would attempt to write songs of some importance or inspiration rather than reiterating the same meaningless junk.
The songs on Splinter are decently positioned on the album, which prevents the listener from ejecting the record and tossing out the car window.
Splinter suffers from poor song construction that makes the album sound repetitive, every song conforming to the standard A-B-A-B-C-B structure. The entire album is recorded with distorted electric guitars with appearances from the synthesizer and other cheesy computer generated effects.
Holland’s vocal performance is what will make the listener cringe. Although the recording studio’s software does a nice job of keeping him in tune, the overcooked yelling and screaming is unnatural and obnoxious. If Holland would try using a real singing voice, The Offspring would be one step closer to musical maturity.
Unfortunately, there is nothing positive that can be said about Splinter. The Offspring should be ashamed for producing such rubbish, especially when the band’s audience knows what they are capable from their earlier efforts. Perhaps there is one clever element about the album that should not go unnoticed.
The album title Splinter is a perfect representation of the songs on the record; they unwillingly get stuck inside and remain annoying.
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