en: The Dissent of Man [info]
It's a fair testament to their dogged perseverance that these legendary SoCal punks must've outlasted just about every spiky-haired teenager they ever inspired to risk life and limb on a skateboard or pester their parents to drop them off at a Warped Tour gig. Along the way they've weathered pop punk's many peaks and troughs, seeing the wax and wane of early peers like the Adolescents and the Circle Jerks, signing to a major label with roughly a bajillion others in the post-Green Day boom of the 90s, and playing understudy to a slew of snotty unit-shifting whelps they laid the ground for.
Perhaps more surprising than their longevity is the fact that - hushed-up 1983 prog blip Into The Unknown aside - in their 31-year existence the band's style and sound has remained largely intact with precious little by way of variation or experimentation to be found along the way. Frontman-cum-primary mouthpiece Greg Graffin continues to weave words of four or more syllables into smooth-flowing three-part vocal harmonies while socially-conscious tales are told with four chords and nursery rhyme simplicity; all, give or take the odd slip into placid MOR navel-gazing, is generally right with the world.
The Dissent of Man follows a post-millennial streak of "back to their heyday" stormers, and while the opening volley of fast-paced punkers looks set to continue this trend it's not long before both the pace and the quality begin to falter. Tracks like Won't Somebody adopt the mid-paced jangle of similarly-longstanding peers Social Distortion while Cyanide tosses in some hokey slide guitar and Where the Fun Is languishes in plain ol' cheesy rock territory. While these elements might have peppered the band's back catalogue they usually took the form of the occasional dud number, but the ratio of misses to hits chalked up here is rather hard to swallow given their previous form. This should have been a fiery celebration of three decades of waving the ragged punk rock banner; instead, it's a laurel-resting plodder.