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The Offspring

Splinter (Columbia)

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Give the Offspring credit. Built on a suspect hook and issued in a genre that had yet to establish its commercial viability, the band's 1994 smash single, "Keep 'Em Separated," had all the makings of a one-hit wonder. The California punkers' 15 minutes have now lasted a decade. After Smash, the band signed to Columbia and quickly learned to play the game, working a reliable ability to turn in catchy pop singles ("I Choose") and novelty songs ("Pretty Fly for a White Guy") while retaining some underground cred by funding punk label Nitro with their dividends.

On Splinter, the band's seventh LP, Offspring's trademarks are still in full effect: Singer Dexter Holland's "Ohhh-ohhh/ waaay-ohhh" vox, guitarist Noodles' arena-rock power chords, blow-by-blow details of zany misadventures, and lessons to be learned from their mistakes. This album's topics include drinking, promiscuous sex, and dropping the soap in a prison shower. Musically, the aging punks indulge dalliances: They unplug ("Spare Me the Details" plays like big-beat Jimmy Buffet) and dabble in electronica ("Hit That") and ska ("The Worst Hangover Ever"). The closer is a hardcore-lite rave-up ("Da Hui"); after lollygagging through the rest of the disc, they ought to have some energy left.

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