The Offspring

Smash (Epitaph ’94) Rating: A-

In the year (1994) that punk broke (again), thanks primarily to Green Day and these guys (and to a much lesser extent Bad Religion, Rancid, NOFX, and others), this album sold many, many millions of copies and became the bestselling independent release ever. So, in terms of influence and popularity, this album is pretty important and belongs in any extensive discussion about 1990's rock music. Heck, 20 years later you still hear this album's two massive hits, “Come Out And Play,” a fun, upbeat single that marries Dick Dale-styled surf guitar with heavy metal amidst catchy shouted chants, and “Self Esteem,” a roaringly anthemic, ridiculously fun (and funny) shout along ode to self-pity. The catchy, angsty “Gotta Get Away” also deservingly received substantial radio play back in the day, and most of the rest of the album remains surprisingly enjoyable, though much of it tends to blur together for me. Don't get me wrong, some songs certainly stand out, such as "Bad Habit" (with its infamous road rage lyrics) and the melodic, ska influenced "What Happened To You?," and there are plenty of other good album tracks as well ("Nitro (Youth Energy)," "Genocide," "Something To Believe In," "It'll Be A Long Time," and the title track, for example). The rest of Smash delivers somewhat generic but mostly appealing punk rock, with the fast tempos you'd typically expect (though the drumming in general isn't especially imaginative) along with many a shouted "whoa" or "la la la" vocal hook. Singer Dexter Holland isn't great but he has charisma and an instantly identifiable voice, and the rest of band win points for the energy and earnestness of their performances. Sure, the big hits tower over everything else here, and overall I can't help but consider The Offspring a singles band above all else (they'd go on to have many later hits, proving that they were far from a one hit wonder, though I'm generally not too fond of the more gimmicky "joke song" hits in their repertoire), but the rest of this album is just good enough for Smash to live up to its lofty title. P.S. For those who are interested, my favorite post-Smash singles are probably "Gone Away" from their 1997 major label debut Ixnay On The Hombre, "The Kids Aren't Alright" from their second most popular album, 1999's Americana, and their 2012 single "Days Gone By" (so as you can see these guys have proven to be surprisingly durable, whether you like them or not). The first two of these songs also appear on their recommended Greatest Hits album released in 2005.

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