Review this album
Feb 23, 2013Even though I'm Christian I have no problem with music with a generally anti-religious message as long as it's done with originality, maturity and intelligence rather than the usual methods of condescending, ridiculing and being overall obnoxious about it. Luckily Bad Religion has always been an excpetion for me. Their messages of liberation, secular progression of society and calling out political corruption remain passionate, inspired and articulate 30+ years later. They seek to vent and educate rather than poke fun and mock. And when I say they’re intelligent, I mean they’re REALLY intelligent. As in I literally had to have dictionary.com on standby for some of the stuff songwriters Greg Graffin (vocals) and Brett Gurewitz (guitar/vocals) had to say. Which is somewhat understandable considering Greg’s recent side-gig as a university professor. Like I said, this band has been putting out albums since 1982 and has never gone more than 3 years without releasing an album, with the exception of a short mid-80s hiatus. And yet after all these years they still manage to sound interesting and compelling, which is a hard task, especially for a punk band that’s rarely changed up their style. Normally I don’t like when a band always sticks to the same style because they’ll inevitably stagnate and become boring. Somehow though Bad Religion seems to be an exception for this rule as well, at least from what I’ve heard (I’m not as well-versed with their back catalog as I’d like to be as of now). They still manage to create songs that are equal parts sincere, impactful, energetic and catchy, an element that some punk bands/purists seem to stupidly confuse for “selling out”. I greatly appreciate this because it makes their messages easier to swallow even if you don’t 100% agree with them, like myself. Another impressive aspect of this band and this album is their use of 3-part vocal harmonies. These group vocal arrangements create a great effect that soar perfectly over the speeding power chords. This is most notable on tracks like Hello Cruel World, In Their Hearts Is Right and the title track. Each track on this album has a similar fast punk-rock formula, with only one track, the more mid-paced Hello Cruel World, clocking in at over 3 minutes. It blazes through 16 tracks in 35 minutes while making nearly nothing feel rushed or underdeveloped. This is aided by Greg’s powerful and blunt vocal delivery. He makes sure that every word is heard clearly while rarely overenunciating or coming off obnoxious. Still, despite all this political and anti-religious passion, my favorite song here is probably the aptly titled F*ck You. The best thing about this song is about how rather than being a generic punk rock “fuq da man” type song, the lyrics go into detail as to what psychologically causes one to want to say the titular phrase and why it’s so satisfying to say. It’s a rather interesting if short literary study. Lyrical topics elsewhere include the greed of the upper class (Robin Hood in Reverse and Land of Endless Greed), deconstructions of the moral compass (True North, In Their Hearts Is Right and Past Is Dead) and questioning of a higher power (Dept. of False Hope and Popular Consensus). If there’s 1 complaint to be had it’s that even at a short 35 minutes, the punk-rock effect starts to wear off by the end of the album from lack of breaks tempo-wise (with the exception of Hello Cruel World), and as a result it feels rather front-loaded. Still, the overall end product is a very satisfying listen, full of the passion, wit, energy and hooks one would look for in a Bad Religion album. Top 5 songs: You, Hello Cruel World, True North, Robin Hood in Reverse, In Their Hearts Is Right. Rating: 85/100.… Expand
Mar 13, 2013True North is the first important release of 2013, and it is an excellent work by Greg Graffin and all the other guys. There are many good songs and You is really exciting. No bad songs, although I don't like Vanity very much. Obviously it's not No Control, but it sounds very good.