Trouble Maker - Rancid
Album: Trouble Maker
Review by Steve Jenkins
When you mention punk music, Rancid are usually one of the first bands to roll off of peoples tongue when asked about this underdog of a genre. Rancid, never leave us. For over 25 years and through numerous side projects, the four-piece punk outfit has continually been a staple soundtrack for the lives of the punk rock kids and punk rock adults, people of all ages. Their new and highly anticipated release, Trouble Maker, doesn’t detract from this in the slightest. The album brings back memories of Rancid’s pinnacle in the mid-90s, with the distinct sounds of nostalgic reggae-punk. Trouble Maker also manages to give the listener quality as well as quantity with a solid album of 17 tracks. It’s a Rancid smell that is all too familiar but it's a smell that brings back good memories and one that still lingers with among the die-hard punks to this day.
Nostalgia, in fact, is the true flavor of the album, with a fast track to get things going appropriately called 'Track Fast'. Things wash over right from Tim Armstrong's first croon on 'Ghost Of A Chance', as if it held the key to a rusty doorway into the past, Trouble Maker captures the essence of memory, both good and bad. 'Where I'm Going' makes you feel nothing but joy with the upbeat ska sound that bounces along at a nice head-bobbing pace. Of course, much of the album aurally follows the old tried-and-true formula fans have seen traverse the likes of their previous records, but there seems to be a rejuvenation when listening to these new songs. After a decent three year gap between their last album, maybe that’s what it took. Maybe the boys needed to go off and do their own thing because, judging from the breath of fresh punk rock air that is Trouble Maker, the punk rock legends are back in a big way and sounding more energized and on point than they have in years.
Though Tim Armstrong isn’t the best singer, you can hear the heart and soul he puts into his vocals. Lars Frederiksen sings wonderful harmonies in the background, and steps in to sing lead in a few songs. Trouble Maker also features some jaw dropping solos and insanely catchy bass lines that we've all come to love and the rest of the record does not disappoint either. It’s filled with Rancid’s street spun tales of friends, family and coming up in the East Bay on tracks like ‘Street Punk Troublemaker’ and ‘All American Neighborhood’. But there are also impressive offerings that showcase the wide variety of sounds Rancid have been known to experiment with. Like ‘Buddy’, ’Bovver Rock And Roll’ and the cool breeze ska swing of the already mentioned ‘Where I'm Going’, which are all standout tracks.
Trouble Maker just feels right. It feels like the Rancid we know and love. And listening to it, you’re reminded why Rancid has been one of the biggest and most influential punk bands on the planet since the mid-90’s. The music is sharp and heavy, fast and exciting. Tim and Lars sound like they’re having the time of their lives. Matty and Branden are in fine form. And punk isn’t dead. The last gang in town is back and they sound better than ever.
8.5 out of 10 stars.
Trouble Maker is out June 9th via Hellcat/Epitaph Records.
Watch and listen to the new track 'Ghost Of A Chance' below: