Whilst most bands today seem happy to chug off a new record every five years or so (unless you’re Tool), Rancid have kept themselves busy as their ninth studio album Trouble Maker hits the shelves just three years after Honor Is All We Know.
As you would expect the record is short, 36 minutes for 17 songs which is about right for the punk rock veterans. Trouble Maker kicks off with “Track Fast” the bruising song played at a thousand miles per hour feels like a direct homage to classic Motorhead, and the frantic crushing of drums, guitars is over in less than a minute, if this is an informal welcome to the record, Rancid have our attention.
“Ghost of a Chance” follows and is instantly one of the tracks you know that you will love, it feels like a classic Rancid song and the boys are on form. Tim Armstrong may never be voted in as the best singer of his generation but his voice lends superbly to Lars Frederiksen’s guitar. “Telegraph Avenue” which like “Ghost of a Chance” has been released as a single may just be one of the catchiest songs that Rancid have written in 20 years.
“An Intimate Close Up of a Street Punk”, which could well be the title of a punk documentary circa New York, early 80s, you can see it right now, will be a song that will sound better live and signal a few moshpits when the band undertake their festival duties in Europe this summer.
“Where I’m Going” is classic ska/punk, with a mix of Buddy Holly and Shane McGowan, whilst “Farewell Lola Blue” could easily be paired up next to 1995’s Rancid effort “Ruby Soho”. “All American Neighborhood” sees the talents of Matt Freeman on bass as the songs builds up to a guitar frenzy. “Bovver Rock and Roll” feels like the bastard son of Marc Bolan and T-Rex.
The majority of songs seem to yearn for a past, a goodbye of sorts and let’s have a drink to the departed- one could wonder if Trouble Maker was influenced by a horrendous 18 months for the music world that has saw everyone from Lemmy to David Bowie pass on.
Rancid deserve to have a bigger crowd and a better following. Whether they can achieve this based on Trouble Maker is not certain. The band have stuck to a tried and tested formula, but have spun out 17 blistering tracks. And if Rancid don’t garner success from these delicacies, then it will be other’s losses.