You can only really make out one word on the brief, bombastic intro to Lars Frederiksen's self-titled solo CD, and that word is "motherfuckers." It's a fitting opening salvo from the mohawked Rancid guitarist, one of the most visible and respected figures of just-above-ground punk, who is famous for veering between profanity and incoherence. With one MF-bomb down, a few hundred to go, and a new backing band (appropriately named the Bastards) to pump him up, Frederiksen has unloaded an album of beer-soaked Ramones-on-steroids anthems hellbent on pushing him further away from the radio-friendly punk mainstream that embraced "Ruby Soho"-era Rancid. Though Rancid singer-guitarist Tim Armstrong produced the disc, Frederiksen takes the reins and dives fearlessly back into blaring, basement-bar rock, with mostly splendid results.
Some may miss Rancid's reggae vibe, pop sensibility, and severe Clash fixation. But great songs abound here, particularly "To Have and to Have Not," a fine, fist-pumping addition to the no-bullshit working class aesthetic that defines Frederiksen's music. All this pointed bombast will make for a jolly-good-kick-in-the-head sort of live performance, particularly with Irish-punk louts the Dropkick Murphys also on the bill. Of all the unholy noise generated by the Rancid conglomerate, Operation Ivy still represents the zenith, balancing punk snarl with big-time sing-along reggae jammin'. Frederiksen wasn't around at the time to help make it, but he clearly learned from it, and he carries Ivy's punk quotient to a satisfying conclusion. It may be loud and profane and a bit hard to decipher, but it isn't lazy.