Monday, September 07, 2009

Album Review : Let The Dominoes Fall - Rancid*****

The only band that matters, that was the tag line that The Clash created to describe themselves, and in the era of hyper polished pop punk that takes longer to record than the average prog concept album , Rancid still stand firm as true punk heroes, defiantly pumping out rough edged but heartfelt political anthems.

Rancid look like the sort of people you wouldn't want to allow into your home, yet their lyrics exude warmth, brotherhood, trust and fraternity, and on their 7th album their brand of Clash inspired working class roots rock is as powerful as ever. Let The Dominoes Fall is, as with much of their previous work, tinged by ska, run through with early punk and is unashamedly edgy, rough and fun. This isn't Green Day spending epic Metallica lengths of time in the studios, this is a real punk band using their art to communicate their love of comrades and confusion with the USA's (and its allies) political direction.

Rancid may plough the track of commonly used punk themes, an anti-global corporation stance on This Place, the desire for freedom of expression on Liberty And Freedom, but they craft their lyrics with a skill beyond what a brief listen to their guitar based reggae punk might indicate. There are a number of songs on the album which explore the USA's involvement in foreign wars, Disconnected plays like a paean to young love but the lyrics indicate a profound disappointment and detachment from modern politics, Civilian Ways sounds almost like a Johnny Cash song, both in musical and lyrical style as a young soldier returns from an extended tour in a foreign war and in The Bravest Kids Rancid praise the young people volunteering for the armed forces, no support or condemnation for politicians, just a simple homage to their simple bravery.

Rancid play a lot of short songs, which can be a good thing, if they can express an idea in a minute and a half then they don't feel the need to stretch and dilute their feelings, and as always with Rancid albums you get plenty of songs for your money, 19 on Let The Dominoes Fall.

The music is, as many others will say/have said, similar to The Clash, Rancid freely mix rabble rousing solid punk with bouncy and happy sounding ska, and it works, if I'm to be really honest, Rancid are better at mixing punk with ska and reggae than Joe Strummer and the boys were. There, I've said it, please don't come knocking at my door.

LTDF is a really great punk album, in the stretch of its 19 tracks it makes you want to get drunk and dance badly, break stuff and change the system, hug your best mate and tell him you'll be friends forever and have a lot of fun all the way through. Sixteen years after their first album was released, Rancid are as good as they ever have been, there songwriting is strong and catchy, their lyrics polemic, combative and heavily rooted in their working class upbringing. The world is a complex place, and Rancid's lyrics reflect that, inclusive and sincere, Rancid want you as part of your gang, and for me, that makes for one very happy old punk.

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