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For any and all Offspring fans, and to anyone that knows anything about The Offspring, it's pretty common knowledge that the breakthrough and highest selling Indie Album of all time was none other than the huge Smash, which sold over 5 million copies and put The Offspring straight on the charts. While many argue that 93's Ignition should have been The Offspring's breakthrough album (and it should), it seemed that Smash hit just the right notes to release multiple hit singles and turn the music world upside down...or somewhere close. It seems that every new album of the Offspring's turns a little more "poppy", but Smash had just the right mix to get through. Their hit single "Come Out and Play" was their 2nd top single, only being overshadowed by Americana's "Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)".
It's pretty neat to see the pattern in which the Offspring had shifted through their six albums...from their raw self titled album to 2000's Conspiracy of One. Each album got a little more poppy as stated before, and ironically, Smash was not only their midpoint in terms of CD numbers, but also in terms of music. It represents a middle of the road, almost perfect mix of pop punk and raw rock that it can please any of the Offspring's fans. Of course, in no way is Smash middle of the road in quality. Whether you were introduced to the Offspring from 1993's Ignition or 1998's Americana, or whatever album, 1995's Smash has an awesome mix of both the key ingridients of these albums making it worth every record it sold.
The Offspring kick off Smash with a bang, and one heck of a song. Nitro (Youth Energy) really gets your "Youth Energy" skyrocketing with the quick drum rolls, heavy guitars, and wailing vocals. A common topic for the Offspring nowadays that makes for a great song is their commentary about our new generation. While it doesn't really delve in the topic as deep as later albums, it's still one of the best songs on the topic just because it's so fast and furious. Nitro is probably the Offspring's best opening song next to Ignition's Session. Nitro still has an edge over Session for the small fact that it's louder and faster, but still both are excellent openers. Come to think of it, The Offspring always have great openers for every album of theirs, but Nitro stands as one the best. Not only is it a great opener, it's one of the top songs of the CD.
Next comes a song in which The Offspring's humor is showcased perfectly. The type of demented humor in which they delve into road rage fantasies. The type of song known as Bad Habit. Bad Habit starts off with wailing vocals, albeit without any guitars, and then kicks off into full blown madness as the song talks about how our driver here likes to whip out a pistol every time some bad driver cuts him off. Come on, admit it, you've thought about it once or twice. Bad Habit is as funny as it is intense, and is another example of the perfect mix of raw vocals and melody that make Smash such a great album. Oddly funny as many of the Offspring's songs are, this song adds to the effect of Smash and really gets you up and moving. It's like getting beaten in the head with a golf club (courtesy of George Carlin), except a lot less painful.
Gotta Get Away is a slower and more stable song than the other energetic Offspring songs in the album, but sounds just as good as the pumped up songs. It definitely has a grunge type feeling to it, and could definitely be taken for one of the top songs on the album. It's a great song, although it may not be everyone's cup of tea, it's definitely a track everyone should check it out.
We move into another one of the best songs on the album Genocide. The literal predecessor to Ixnay on the Hombre's Change the World, this starts off with a fast beat and a great guitar riff, and then heads on into a song of two people linked together by separate lives. Actually, the lyrics aren't really that great, but the vocals and music are awesome and perfectly done. The vocals sound wild yet contained, and the music sounds anything but conventional. This is what makes Genocide another fast and furious hit song. Definitely make sure to check this one out, it's definitely one of the reasons for the purchase of Smash.
At number 7 we have the infamous hit single Come Out and Play. The song that put the Offspring on the map and Smash into millions of homes, Come Out and Play is also one of the best songs on the albums, no matter how overplayed it was. Come Out Play moves at a nice pace with raw, purposefully monotonous lyrics. The theme talks about gang violence and adolscent violence as well, but the best part of the song are those guitars which play almost and Egyptian-like tune that makes the song sound alot cooler. While Come Out and Play isn't the best song on the album, it's definitely one of the better songs on there, and again showcases the awesome talents of the Offspring.
Actually, Smash contains the two top singles on the album back to back, and right after the antics of Come Out and Play we get the other hit single Self Esteem. Many seem to consider this one of the best Offspring songs, and with good reason. It's almost an anthem to the downtrodden, with the subject matter only The Offspring can handle so well...unhealthy relationships. Self Esteem for some is biting reality, and for others is a funny little look into the life of a guy being used by his girlfriend. The slowest song on the album, it's also one of the funniest and catchiest. This song really cemented The Offspring's popularity after Come Out and Play.
It'll Be a Long Time is yet another amazing song. Starting off with a killer verse, this song is The Offspring sounding like Bad Religion. The mix is amazing, once again showing The Offspring as one of the most underrated bands lyrics wise. More amazing lyrics with an even better chorus make It'll Be A Lon Time another great song on this excellent album.
Ahhh, now here's a song. Killboy Powerhead is so blatantly meaningless lyrics-wise, and just so goofy sounding that is qualifies as an awesome song. Seriously. Most of the words are fast, with the vocals "Killboy Powerhead" are screamed out in grand Offspring fashion. The intstrumentals are also perfect making Killboy Powerhead an awesome song that doesn't want to and doesn't need to speak about anything. It's brainless fun, and supports the cause of Smash. After listening to it you'll probably be tempted to change your name to Killboy Powerhead and smash stuff up. Okay, seriously though, the song carries the same energy off as the other top songs on the album. It's fast, driving and just plain catchy.
What Happened to You takes a departure from the punk/rock stylings of the Offspring and brings in an odd and oddly familiar ska beat. And truth be told, this song makes a perfect feeling for Offsprings humor. Also, instead of whoa's, we get hey's from Offspring, and it sounds just as good in the ska type song. It sounds very positive and yet humorous at the same time. Holding a nice pace, and an awesome chorus, it would have really been cool to see a trombone or trumpet section added just for this song. Still, even with the intruments they have, the ska stylings of What Happened to You are positive, funny, fast, melodic, and just plain rock. As stated before, the chorus really makes this song go, and make the song just so much better. As only the Offspring can do such a great chorus.
So Alone returns things back to the Offspring's normal sound. Given, So Alone is a fun and fast song, but just a little bit too fast (or should I say short?), running at 1:17, it barely adds anything to the CD, and it definitely sounds alot like the other Offspring songs on the album. While this is by no means a downer, and the song is by no means bad, it's just too short for it's own good. Also, it doesn't really do anything substantial to the album at this point like those track openers did.
Not the One sets the tone for the second to last song on the album. This song on innocence has a very sweet sound to it, and has a melancholy while hopeful tone ringing to it. Another fine example of why Smash is as good as it is. The album-titled track, Smash, is also an excellent closer, with The Offspring proclaiming..."I'm not a trendy asshole! Do what I want, do what I feel like...". Of course, many people have used that against them, since they did become quite trendy later on.
Still, for those looking at a perfect balance between punk, rock, and a bit of pop sprinkled in, The Offspring's Smash is a perfect album to get. It's got every ingridient in it that made the Offspring famous, and to quote a later album, it definitely comes out swinging.
V P is a Contributing Writer. Contact him