Do you have an album you look back on fondly, but don’t know why? When’s the last time you listened to 16-year-old you’s favourite record of all time? Do you wonder how well the songs from your iPod Classic’s Top Played playlist have aged? In this new segment, we encourage our writers to revisit their most favourite albums from their past in order to determine the answer to the important question, “Was it actually good?”
Cali punk rockers, The Offspring, released Smash in 1994. It was their third studio album, but the first to truly break the band into the mainstream. It reached fourth on the US Billboard 200 and has successfully sold 11 million copies, making it the best selling independent label album of all time. Smash serves as one the band’s most popular and iconic albums, but to 8-year-old Nick none of these fancy stats mattered. He just wanted to blare “Gotta Get Away” on his Discman while feeling oh-so-edgy. This naïve boy made a promise to himself all those years ago that he would never tired of The Offspring.
Unfortunately, the last 12 years haven’t been so kind to The Offspring, and 20-year-old Nicks sure tired of them. Over the years, their decline in quality has been so painfully obvious that after Conspiracy of One I found myself looking at the band in a depressed state. Despite my fatigue, I retained the sentiment that Smash was my favourite album, despite never listening to it in full since those pre-teen years. Until now.
In an attempt to further destroy my childhood, I decided to give this album a listen. And to my surprise it holds up quite well. The punk rock presented is fun and objectively good. “Come Out and Play” remains a song that’ll get you excited (with that riff), and “Self-Esteem” still manages to tell a relevant story of an abusive relationship.
Unlike most bands of this genre, Smash isn’t just full of junk tacks smashed in between songs meant to be sold as radio singles. The whole album contains great songs which can stand alone or together — hmmm, I believe another, similar punk band had a name for this phenomenon.“What Happened to You” proudly displays the band’s most California punk influences, and is just one example of a song that feels like a genuine inclusion rather than a time filler. I can’t narrow down a favourite song from the album and in the same breath can’t think of a single song I would readily skip. My tastes may have changed from the punk rock presented in this album, but even now I do respect their quality.
The album may indulge in typical Offspring tropes, such as overused “yeahs” and “whoas,” but the genuine and classic nature of the tracks makes this far less painful on this album than others. My other problem with the record is the last song, “Smash,” or at least how it’s recorded. It’s 10 minutes long, but the actual track only amounts to roughly three minutes — the rest is filled with silence. Listening back, I couldn’t help but think, hey its been over 20 years, digital streaming is a thing now, cut that shit out and make the secret track its own. The worst part of all is knowing the secret track is reused as the worst song from the following album, Ixnay on the Hombre.
Despite my enjoyment of the music, the most important thing I took away from this re-listen was its ability to transport me back to my days of being an eight year old and the pure uncynical enjoyment that age brought. This delightful regression remained until my prof emailed our class a picture of a dog. Then my cynicism came back to slap me back to reality.
Was it actually good? Yes.