|The Offspring - Conspiracy of One|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Tuesday, 14 November 2000|
Conspiracy of One,
Columbia Records, 2000
| Performance 8 | Sound 8 |
There is nothing quite like listening to an album that your exceeds your expectations. I’ve been on the fence with my opinion of the Offspring ever since their breakout hit "Come Out And Play" from the album Smash was released on the small, independent label Epitaph Records. I always understood their appeal, but was never sure if I was necessarily a fan or not. Singer Dexter Holland’s vocal performances were just sketchy enough to make me wonder whether he could actually sing, or whether studio production tricks such as double tracking and reverb were the only things keeping his vocal parts afloat. On Conspiracy of One, most of my doubts about Holland’s singing and the band’s performance as a whole have been washed away. He whines much less and there is a new air of confidence in the voice of this 34-year-old Orange County, California native.
This is a hard-hitting, solid punk pop record from beginning to end, with only a few minor bumps in the road. Not only are the performances here solid, but the sound of the record is big and dynamic, words not usually associated with punk music. The actual packaging and artwork included with this album are topnotch as well. Like Limp Bizkit, the Offspring have been quite vocal in their support of Napster, and it makes sense that such detail would be put into the artwork and packaging of the finished product. Ultimately, they are betting on the fact that people will want to have the artwork, lyrics and multi-media extras, not just the music.
The album opens with a sample of the Beach Boys’ Mike Love saying, "When I step up to the microphone, it comes out sounding something like this," and kicks into the furiously tight "Come Out Swinging." The Offspring never puts the brakes on this high-energy album, but they do ease off the throttle a bit for the album’s first single, "Original Prankster." Unfortunately, the best part of this song is Rob Schneider’s "You can do it" sample from the Adam Sandler film ‘The Waterboy.’ I assume that the song’s title is a parody of "Original Gangster" by Ice-T, but that never seems to come across musically or lyrically. It’s just another insanely catchy Offspring song, much like "Pretty Fly (for a white guy)," that will be in non-stop rotation on MTV.
"Want You Bad," "Million Miles Away" and "One Fine Day" are some of the album’s best tracks. There are times of this record when the Offspring sound like a mix between the Descendants and Agent Orange, two of my favorite SoCal punk bands. This album will surely be the soundtrack for many a frat party, as well as a skateboard session or two, but it’s important to remember that only posers would consider the Offspring to be real skate music. This is big-budget, mainstream punk, with producer Brenda O’Brien (Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, Stone Temple Pilots) twisting the knobs on Conspiracy of One and the huge promotional arm of Sony Music’s Columbia Records behind it.
Conspiracy of One is a tad predictable, and there is still a bit of whinny post-teen angst in the lyrics, but the energy level of the performances and the production make this album quite easy to swallow. Skip the annoying single and what you are left with is a fun punk/pop that has a little something for everyone.