Tim Armstrong, give it up. No matter how many albums Rancid
puts out, punk isn’t any closer to making a comeback – in fact, Armstrong and
Co.’s latest disappointing release, Let the Dominoes Fall, is probably
ushering the genre into its grave instead of saving it.
Six years after Rancid’s last album, Indestructible, the band proves to be just the opposite. Let the
Dominoes Fall is a collection of 19 songs that simply don’t live up to the
sound the band pioneered with …And Out Come the Wolves; while fans may
have been outraged by the presence of pop in “Fall Back Down” and other recent
works, they should be more angry about this – an album that takes
three-quarters of an hour to go absolutely nowhere.
Though the band uses the album as a conduit for their disgust with the
current war on terror and sympathy for the soldiers involved, Let the Dominoes Fall feels somewhat
incomplete, like the band couldn’t figure out whether to be more angry or more
sentimental. For example, “Civilian Ways,” with its lyrics about how Armstrong
will “never forget the sacrifices/ My friends made for me,” works well as a
ballad, but the song which immediately follows it, “The Bravest Kids,” has its
message (“The bravest kids I know/ Are the ones that gotta go/ Fight over
there”) lost in its brief 1:36 length.
Armstrong, Lars Frederiksen and the rest of the guys are at their best when
delving into ska or other melodic formats – for example, songs such as “Up to
No Good,” “I Ain’t Worried” and “New Orleans” are catchy in their pop-punk
consciousness, simplicity and similarity to The Transplants, Armstrong’s, Rob
Aston’s and Travis Barker’s on-hiatus side project (They’re not half-bad when
they’re imitating The Clash, either – listen to “That’s Just the Way It Is Now”
But unfortunately, most of the album’s tracks (in typical Rancid fashion),
are between two and three minutes long, so they simply don’t build up enough
steam or depth to be memorable – either too rapidly paced (“You Want It, You
Got It,” “Locomotive”) or too gimmicky (such as “Disconnected” and “L.A.
River,” both of which use some really pained, constipated-yelling-style vocals)
to be enjoyable. If only the tracks had been a little bit longer, slightly more
melodic, a tad bit more pop – without all that, Let the Dominoes Fall is
just a fall from grace.
Standout tracks: “Up to No Good,” “I Ain’t Worried,” “Civilian Ways”