Australia's Living End makes punk rock as if the '80s never happened. It lives for and by the three-chord guitar hook. All right, it loves that three-chord guitar hook and draws equally from the Ramones and pub metal. And there's some concession made to politicize the music. While the band tries to rally behind all the right social causes, it's so much more fun just to turn up the amps and play those three righteous chords. This is punk rock, millennium style, from Down Under -- maybe that's why it sounds as if the '80s never happened.
On its second stateside album, Roll On, the Living End doesn't really do anything different from its self-titled debut, which came out three years ago. It still believes in the right to rage and to deliver every single word in the tone of a young, loud, and snotty brat. Which means the comparisons with labelmates Green Day are, once again, inevitable. But the Living End is more dedicated to the cause (which is, as far as we can make out, its entitlement to make punk rock for kids who weren't around the first couple of times). No need to worry about selling tons of records, so chances are pretty good the Living End will remain loyal. The three-minute song limit it imposes is a smart move, since most of these songs barely sustain that. And starting the otherwise plodding "Dirty Man" with a series of guitars-as-alarms à la the Clash may have seemed like an OK idea, but it's hardly worth the headache of wrongly putting the band in league with the Clash. Yet, for all its yesteryear boredom, Roll On kicks. And pounds. And rushes to an end. It's punk rock, just like what Mom and Dad used to listen to.