The Offspring, Let the Bad Times Roll
You may know them from such ’90s mega-hits as Self-Esteem, Come Out and Play and Pretty Fly For a White Guy. Now The Offspring are back with their 10th album that lacks none of their earlier spontaneity, despite being the better part of a decade in the making. In the best punk tradition they come out swinging at Trump-era politics with This is Not Utopia, followed by the similarly themed title track, which recalls their past catchiness while challenging the listener to choose “apathy or suicide”. We Never Have Sex Anymore finds frontman Dexter Holland going through the motions of middle age, starved of attention both positive and negative: “If you won’t violate me will you at least aggravate me?” The Opioid Diaries, decrying the drugged generation, reaches the breakneck pace of The Offspring of yore. The album finishes with an orchestral version of another signature hit, Gone Away, that gets the feels going better than the original.
Cloud Tangle, Swells
(False Peak/4000 Records) ***1/2
Brisbane’s Cloud Tangle is a journey not only of sound but of mind, an ambient dreamscape with Amber Ramsay’s mesmerising vocals enhancing the hypnotic effect. Sinking Feeling ironically gives the listener a floating sensation with its organ hum, while Ramsay sings on the haunting Stare: “Take me down and take control.” Instrumentals are among the highlights, with the gentle sway and mournful sax of Mechanism and the atmospheric Confined, which would be right at home on Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell. Elsewhere are traces of early The Grid. There’s the gentle pulse of Repetition, and Feedback closes proceedings in fittingly dreamlike style.
Paul McCartney, McCartney III Imagined
Not since Kanye “discovered” him has this obscure Liverpudlian received so much help from other artists. Macca’s recently released third eponymous iso-record gives others plenty of room to play. Beck adds a loopy, trancelike quality to Find My Way, while Dominic Fike and Phoebe Bridgers assume lead vocals for The Kiss of Venus and Seize the Day respectively. Women and Wives slows to a slower loungey tempo at the hands of St Vincent. The album not only casts the songs in a new light, but makes you appreciate the original versions anew. And the title is a nice nod to the other half of Lennon-McCartney, 40 years on from his untimely death.