Meaningful Punk Rock (The Restored Version)
Written: Nov 7, 2002 (Updated Apr 8, 2006)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
The Bottom Line: So, I guess that's it for this constantly preaching, ranting album- good lyrics, good music, and overall, a great album.
I've had the Offspring's Americana for about four years now, thinking as far back as I can remember. When the album was purchased, I was so young, I couldn't really take it that seriously- I mean, how old was I? 11? 12? At an age like that, you can probably guess I wasn't much into the political and domestic themes in the album. I was completely oblivious to them. To me, all this album was a forty-minute long CD of nothing except punk rock riffs and a slightly annoying singer. Then, about a year ago (when my original review was written), I started to get into the (theological?) stuff, and I looked at the album in a completely different way. Damnit, now I'll have to turn off Weezer to listen to it again.
Americana is titled perfectly. Every song in the album is about America's problems, in which there are a lot. On the cover you what is basically the introduction to the record, showing a little boy on a swing, holding a horrid bug and smiling. A little tentacle is on the side. In red letters, you see "Americana." This is a metaphor. The little boy represents innocence, they bug represents evil, and the tentacle represents America, which handed the little boy the bug.
Open the little booklet up to see a scarecrow falling into the tentacles. Basically he is falling into America and it's little evils. This accompanies the song, "Have You Ever", which is pretty good and talks about losing yourself to pressure. Aside from the odd introduction to this CD (which I will disregard for its stupidity), this is a pretty good way to kick things off- very nice rock riffs and lyrics:
Have you ever walked through a room
But it was more like the room passed around you
Like there was a leash around your neck that pulled you through
Have you ever been at someplace
Recognizing everybody's face
Until you realized that there was no one there you knew
Well I know
Some days, my soul's confined and out of mind
Some days, I'm so outshined and out of time
Have you ever
Falling, I'm falling
Somehow, they ring out very powerfully, with the background singers going, "Falling, I'm falling..." and what not.
On the next page you see a man driving with sweat pouring down his face, and a bullet headed towards him. This is for Staring at the Sun, which is fast and furious, and along with most of the songs on this album, alive. This album has an confidence to it that you notice right away... anyway, "Staring at the Sun" talks about how too much of life is spent surviving, and not enough being alive, and it's definitely likable for its riffs, despite the fact that it is a small song.
Following this is the radio hit Pretty Fly, which most people sadly take as a joke, when it is about some moron who tries to be cool when he should really be himself. I love this song for how fun it is, and for how serious it is at the same time- there are seriously too many wanna-be losers in the world, and I think we're all sick of them...
You know it's kind of hard
Just to get along today
Our subject isn't cool
But he fakes it anyway
He may not have a clue
And he may not have style
But everything he lacks
Well he makes up in denial
The Kids Aren't Alright, which is about neighborhood problems, is quite chilling, and is accompanied by a little boy about to pick up a gun. It's really powerful, and it feels a bit like Weezer's Pinkerton... a lot of emotion is put into it, and you can sense this immediately. The lyrics also help with the mood of a destroyed town-
When we were young the future was so bright
The old neighborhood was so alive
And every kid on the whole damn street
Was gonna make it big and not be beat
Now the neighborhood's cracked and torn
The kids are grown up but their lives are worn
How can one little street
Swallow so many lives
After this is Feelings, a parody of an old song, also called "Feelings." I can't tell how seriously to take this- it talks about the character singing hates a certain person, but since this seems quite pessimistic for Offspring's nature, I'm confused about it. It's probably one of the worst songs on the album, but its still pretty decent.
After this is She's Got Issues, which is about a girl who is having problems and goes to evil to get rid of it. I can sympathize with this song as well- I've dated some pretty odd women in my life, and after I get to know them, I eventually end up finding that I would have been better off not knowing anything about them. This song is fun and serious, and I like it.
Walla Walla comes next, about a guy who cho made the wrong choices in life and ends up going to prison. The picture shows him sitting in prison, wrapped in tentacles, while the clock drones on. The song jumps around a bit, and it seems like the band is having fun being serious- yes, they're very serious in here, but since it also strangely feels like they're going to burst out laughing, you don't know what to think about the emotion of the song. Either way, the confusion doesn't take away from its good quality.
The End of the Line is about death and the memories it leaves, and while the emotion in it is great, and you can sense this in the lyrics...
When the pastor's music plays
And that casket rolls away
I could live again if you
Just stay alive for me
Please stay now, you left me here alone - it's the end of the line
Please stay I can't make it on my own - it's the end of the line
Make it on my own
It's the end of the line
Now that you are dead and gone
And I'm left to carry on
I could never smile cause you
Won't stay alive for me
...it is probably the worst song on the album- it's not bad, but it's not good either. For some reason, I didn't find myself enjoying it as much as I did with the other songs. The riffs in it aren't as cool as in the other songs, so it doesn't work as well.
Then there's Why Don't You Get A Job", another radio hit, about problems between couples, and the lyrics are of course serious, but the song isn't- it's really fun, and in its hilarity, maybe it could possibly motivate someone, somewhere in this world, to ask their girlfriend, "Why don't you get a job?"
My friend's got a girlfriend
Man he hates that b*tch
He tells me every day
He says "man I really gotta lose my chick
In the worst kind of way"
She sits on her @$$
He works his hands to the bone
To give her money every payday
But she wants more dinero just to stay at home
Well my friend
You gotta say
I won't pay, I won't pay ya, no way
Why don't you get a job
Say no way, say no way, no way
Why don't you get a job
Americana, which has an obvious subject, and shows a little boy running over skulls with a football in his had, and an upside down American flag in the background. While its quality almost drops down to that of "The End of the Line" (almost), it just barely remains a good songs, starting out with interesting drums, and the f-word repeated a few times in the song. How this album got away without a Parental Advisory I am not sure of- but I suppose that's not a big deal. Anyway, this is a decent song, but one of the worst.
Finally, there is the creepy ending song, Pay The Man, in which the picture shows where the tentacles came from, someone called "The Man," which is America. He has 10 hands, all of which have things which aren't exactly evil, but are if you base your lives on them: Television, guns, a pipe, movies, pornography, Bill Clinton, hamburgers, drugs, and rock and roll. "The Man" also has five necklaces, which represent the five things people live for: Peace, money, Christ, anarchy, and racism. "Pay the Man" is a great song, with its odd mix of several genres (rock, punk, metal, mexican?, Pinkerton), and the encore after it is also decent, despite its oddness.
So, I guess that's it for this constantly preaching, ranting album- good lyrics, good music, and overall, a great album. By the way- On the back of the album, you see a swing. On it sits the bug.