Rancid

Indestructible

If Bruce Springsteen were a punk rocker, he'd be in Rancid. Just as the Boss once galvanized a generation of working-class young people with his down-to-earth tunefulness and fist-pumping bids for camaraderie, freedom, and the American Dream, so too does the Bay Area's second most popular punk outfit (after Green Day) connect with today's concertgoing Janes and Joes.

From longtime fans who grew up on the sweaty teen spirit of Gilman Street to suburban middle-schoolers just starting to hunger for independence, the band's fairly wide, loyal demographic will not likely be put off by Rancid's decision to release its latest album on a major label after a dozen years as the flag-bearer of indie-punk hipness. Not unlike Springsteen, Rancid has fostered an allegiance with its fans by speaking directly to them, and it continues to do so on Indestructible.

The group provides the inside scoop on the meaning of each tune on the new CD by prefacing the lyrics in the notes with revealing lines like, "This song's for anyone who stood up when they were told to sit down" ("Arrested in Shanghai"). Hell, yeah! From the catchy title track to the anthemic "Born Frustrated," Rancid's heartfelt songwriting taps our collective inner teenager. And we're an indignant lot. In the classic rebel-youth tradition, the band punctuates its guitar-heavy paeans to the injustices of homelessness, violence, and war with copious variations on the f-word, like the rad end-rhyme of "motherfucker" and "sucker" on "David Courtney." Lively keyboards and massive singalong choruses temper the punk rawk energy and confirm the band's bloodline to the Boss.

Every generation needs a voice in its pop music that exalts this great nation's foundational values. Rancid is ours, and now the mainstream will hear the roar.

 
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