I generally hate punctuation in a band name, but it’s uncommonly fitting with Off!. Sure, they only included it to keep the pesticide theme going, but every scrap of vitriol that Keith Morris shouts out in the lyrics deserves to be followed with the exclamation point. It’s loud, shocked, and direct as hell. Almost every song uses the first or second person point of view (mostly second) and the band has only written one song that cleared the two-minute mark (“Hypnotized,” 2:15).
This is LP #3 from the California hardcore throwbacks, recreating the energy from Keith Morris early day bands like Circle Jerks and Black Flag. The point of the band is to recapture that magic, and the recording sessions have followed the old 1-2, in-and-out of the studio approach. The band writes songs quickly, records, and hits the surf…or the chiropractor. Anyway, the reason for mentioning this is the lyricism, which is blunt and direct: sometimes to a fault, other times beautifully simple. It works both ways, as in the “Time’s Not on Your Side” line of “You fuck with me/ I’ll fuck with you.”
Building even further, an element of the band is the thinly veiled shots at personalities from said ‘80s scene. The record, after all, is named Wasted Years, a mash-up of Black Flag titles with a pointed meaning. When the closing title track spitting a confrontational “You were never on my side,” it sounds both like autobiography and also like a juvenile grudge that can’t be overcome. (Hearing Morris calling out his subject for being “stuck in the past” is curious coming from a band that was seemingly born to spotlight a specific time and place itself.)
Really, though, nobody is listening to Off! to hear philosophical thoughts. It’s about raging hooks, harshly screamed aggression, and wide-eyed, dreadlock-whipping fury. Wasted Years continues where its predecessors left off, not adding anything new to the stable but still presenting unabashed disgust and energy.
It’s not a progression from their last record as much as it’s a replacement in the touring set list. The tone and energy are the same, but the progressions and hooks rarely step away from convention. To compare with the self-titled album, it’s a matter of personal preference and highlight tracks, and Wasted Years burns by with some fine cuts, but not really many great ones. It’s a solid enough spin, but you’ve heard it before. Which, I think, is kind of the point.
7.0 / 10
Posted Nov. 22, 2014, 9:04 a.m.
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Posted Feb. 23, 2014, 2:03 p.m.
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