If anyone engages me in a conversation about music for more than 5 minutes, they will probably discover that I am a huge fan of pop-punk. I grew up listening to it, I go to gigs regularly to see the bands that play it, I even learned guitar from strumming along to it. I’m not an obsessive fan – I don’t like everything that comes out in the genre – instead I’d say I’m more of a connoisseur. I like the punk bands that I like because they have made the songs that I think are the best in the genre and, because I’ve listened to them and studied them for years now, I’ve got reasons and arguments to back-up my thoughts on each band/song/album. I know this sounds pretty pretentious, but it just stems from an absolute LOVE of this type of music!
I’ve liked pretty much all of the ‘famous’ pop-punk bands at some point. Most of them have made at least one song that I can get into and enjoy. And, conversely, most have also made songs that I really dislike. Very few have made entire albums that I think are total garbage. Unfortunately, the album ‘Splinter’ by The Offspring is one of those albums.
When I was about 14 (I think), The Offspring had released ‘Americana’ and ‘Conspiracy Of One’, which were their two ‘big albums’ that had loads of amazing songs on and a few singles that managed to break through to the mainstream. I didn’t own each of these two albums and was introduced to them by my friend Mike, who had them both. I borrowed them from him and really loved them both. I didn’t want to spend my pocket money on them however, because I knew that they had a new album coming out soon, so I would save my money for that one. I was so excited to finally get an Offspring album, after all I’d heard I knew I was going to enjoy it. I had already made the decision to spend the little bit of money that I had on this album, and not something else – which was a big decision!
I remember sitting down in my bedroom and playing ‘Splinter’ on my CD player. I listened all the way through and read the lyrics from the album sleeve along with each of the tracks. When it was all over – which wasn’t after very long at all, the album only has 11 tracks and a bonus ‘joke song’, two of which are less than 2 minutes – I was just confused. I new that this should have been – was MEANT to be – something that I really enjoyed and it was just, well… I put the album again and listened more carefully. Maybe there was something that I missed the first time? Maybe it would all become clear on this second listen-through… Nope. The smile gradually fell from my face and I started to feel regret for spending my pocket money on this music, anger at a band for letting me down so harshly and just a general feeling of helplessness. After all, the internet wasn’t as readily-available so I couldn’t just download something else. I was stuck with it. Stuck with this album that I didn’t understand.
This album still baffles me to this day. I’ve since listened to The Offspring’s entire discography and literally every other album they have done has at least TWO songs that I think are fantastic, and a bunch more that are great. ‘Splinter’ doesn’t have anything that even comes close.
Here are my thoughts on the tracks from ‘Splinter’ by The Offspring:
1. ‘Neocon’ – Needlessly long ‘intro’ song with too much crowd-chanting and not enough actual music.
2. ‘The Noose’ – Decent enough opening riff leads nowhere. Too many ‘woah’s. Chance for an awesome solo is just wasted. Tries. Fails.
3. ‘Long Way Home’ – The lyrics in this one are so bland, generic and broad: “The past is gone the future’s blind / Don’t care how long it takes this time”. It just sounds like it was written in five minutes.
4. ‘Hit That’ – Everyone I know tried really hard to like this song. It was played everywhere. Everyone soon realised though that despite it’s constant airplay, this is not actually a good song at all. It’s mind-numbingly annoying and poorly constructed, with bad vocals and a horrible keyboard riff.
5. ‘Race Against Myself’ – Promising opening… but it’s got a bit too much of Nickelback sound to it for my liking.
6. ‘(Can’t Get My) Head Around You’ – This is probably the only song on the album that is close to being decent. It was the second single from this album (after ‘Hit That’) and is actually mostly OK. It has a catchy riff, solid structure and consistent lyrics and vocals. I particularly like how the intro/verse is quiet before it all kicks-in but they don’t feel as though they have to bring it back down again for the second verse, they just keep the energy going. Even so, if this song was on any other Offspring album, it probably wouldn’t have been seen as good enough to release as a single.
7. ‘The Worst Hangover Ever’ – Silly but not particularly clever or funny. Sounds like they are trying to re-write some of their earlier light-hearted songs like ‘Why Don’t You Get A Job?’
8. ‘Never Gonna Find Me’ – More unnecessary ‘woah’s. Album filler. Weak.
9. ‘Lightning Rod’ – Another one that could have been good. I has this odd Iron-Maiden-ish chorus that doesn’t really fit with the rest of the song. More ‘woah’-rhyme-filler. There’s also a disappointing ‘solo’ that just follows the vocal melody.
10. ‘Spare Me the Details’ – Just boring. Overly simple.
11. ‘Da Hui’ – Punk song poorly executed. So annoying. Really bad lyrics. Another one that seems like it was just thrown together in a few minutes.
12. ‘When You’re in Prison’ – Such a terrible song., even for a ‘joke song’. A pointless, jarring end to the album.
[If, for some reason, you want to listen to the album, it’s up in it’s entirety on YouTube here – look in the ‘About’ section of the video for track times.]
Minus the lame ‘joke song’, which I have always considered to be just an unnecessary ‘bonus track’, the album’s duration comes in at a measly 29-ish minutes. It is, quite simply, not goo enough to be this short. Especially at the time it was released, when a decent new album could set you back around £18 (with no “just torrent it” option available!)
It’s just such a shame! Their other albums are, on the whole, excellent! Each with at least one track that I can firmly point at and say “THAT is what makes this album great.”
As you can see, this album was and still is to this day my biggest disappointment in music. Maybe I should be thankful for that though, because if I hadn’t have gotten this disappointment out of the way early, another band would have let me down eventually. I like to think it has made me wiser in my appreciation for bands and music in general.
When it comes down to it, my thoughts on ‘Splinter’ can be summarised as follows:
Regardless of how many good songs a band can make, they will always, without fail, make plenty of bad songs too. It’s just a shame that all of The Offpsring’s worst songs were put together and released as one album!