"It's all I've ever done, all I've ever known, just wanna play one more show and make some music with my friends".
This, Rancid's first album in six years, does not aim to please or invite anyone. A mixture of old school punk, ska, folk and a smidgen of country make it a mixed bag of nuts, but it is also very interesting. First track 'East Bay Night' goes back to the old days of Rancid, with a content well known to them and contained in every album, as does the new single 'Last One To Die' and 'Disconnected,' recalling the '...And Out Come The Wolves' era. The upbeat ska is at its best in 'Up to No Good,' 'Lulu' and 'Liberty And Freedom;' the latter sounding like Johnny Cash fronting The Specials performing a true protest song.
The odd tracks are a little different, however. 'Skull City' has some very basic but metaphorical lyrics ("She's my honky tonk girl / She dances on a pole" - about hard hit cities,) the poppy 'That's Just The Way It Is Now,' and 'I Ain't Worried,' though with ska overtones, it sounds like Armstrong is trying to gain a place in Goldie Looking Chain! His gruff voice has softened for many of the songs, returning for 'Lulu.' Many different instruments are scattered throughout the album; the mandolin in country style 'Civilian Rights,' and keyboard on standout track 'Dominoes Fall' are amongst them.
As many of Rancid's songs are penned on acoustic guitar, the last song 'The Highway' is a rare recorded glimpse into the unplugged side of the brotherhood of Rancid. With lyrics like "It's all I've ever done, all I've ever known, just wanna play one more show and make some music with my friends" you know where you are with the East Bay punks. The album focuses mainly on the subject of survival, with mentions of way of life ('East Bay Night,' 'LA River,') war ('Civilian Ways,' The Bravest Kids,') relationships ('Disconnected,') poverty ('Lulu,') but mostly survival ('This Place,' 'Last One To Die,' 'Locomotive.') The pace is mainly fast and to the point; the longest song is 3.11 minutes, with quite a few tracks poking their heads just over the one minute mark.
This album sounds like the band are having fun, unlike the sad times surrounding 'Indestructible.' Rancid fans will love it, but I do not think that new fans will appear from listening solely to this record. Either way I doubt Rancid care; they are doing what they love and will continue until they can no longer play.