During that late-’90s stretch when music writers seemed unusually anxious to proclaim the death of rock ’n’ roll, the Bay Area pastiche-punk quartet Rancid was one of the few guitar-slinging bands drawing any significant coverage—even though a lot of those writers were just lining up to take shots at Rancid’s overt Clash “homages.” Perhaps feeling the pressure, Rancid’s members released a strident self-titled LP in 2000, scattered into side projects, retreated to the poppier side for 2003’s Indestructible, then scattered back into side projects. Now, six years and one drummer-switch later, Rancid returns with the Indestructible-like Let The Dominoes Fall, another catchy, rowdy record that makes up in energy what it lacks in ambition. Rancid is every bit as politicized as it was a decade ago, whether analyzing the meaning of loaded words in the mid-tempo ska workout “Liberty And Freedom,” or expressing a pervasive alienation in the snappy, punky “Disconnected.” But Let The Dominoes Fall is mainly designed to deliver a succession of crushing riffs, jaunty rhythms, and shout-along choruses, some as frivolous as the self-aggrandizing “Last One To Die” and some as impassioned (though belated) as the elegiac “New Orleans.” This is a record meant to sound good and feel good, though it’s unlikely to stir many passionate feelings, for or against it.
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