Some Punk With Your Burger?

The album opens with a digitized voice burping out voice-mail announcements.

The Offspring are a homogenized version of American hardcore punk, and

as such they specialize in serving up bland, quasi-political guff to the

tune of their progenitors (the Descendents, Adolescents, Dag Nasty and

Bad Religion). Ever since the Southern California band struck

multiplatinum with their album Smash (1994), they've endeavored

to become a veritable pop-punk hit factory. And it appears that they're

succeeding.

Maybe because the group guarantees service with a smirk and the delivery

of a predictable, alt.fashionable product. Americana is nothing

if not trendy. The album opens with a digitized voice burping out

voice-mail announcements (hmm, hasn't this been done before?). Also

included are video clips and some sort of karaoke feature that allows

"users" to sing along with their favorite songs. The lead-off single,

"Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)," reprises the structure of the band's

first top 10 hit, "Come Out and Play." The stop 'n' go riffs, mildly

amusing come-on cliches (a group of girls coo "give it to me baby"), and

Holland's anthemic chorus sound curiously familiar. Like the

"commentary" on gangs and racial tension of "Come Out and Play" --

"gotta keep 'em separated" -- vocalist Dexter Holland now pokes fun at the perceived ineptitude of white males, singing, "So if you don't rate, just overcompensate/ At least you'll know you can always go on "Rikki Lake"/ The world needs wannabes."

"The Kids Aren't Alright" features radio-friendly rock guitar (for a

"punk" band, the Offspring are an awfully radio-cozy bunch).

Holland's Ozzy-Osbourne-meets-Brian-Wilson wail rides cleanly over Kevin

"Noodles" Wasserman's chugging, gurgling guitars; and bassist Greg

Kriesel and drummer Ron Welty's unwavering turbo-rhythm clip binds it

all together. "Why Don't You Get a Job?" parodies the oompah tune and

vocal melody of the Beatles' "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," with the addition of

steel drums, horns and staccato guitars. There is also a version of

Morris Albert's light-rock staple, "Feelings," which supplants the

original's orchestration and vocal schmaltz with beefy guitar chords and

Holland's ire: "Feelings ... like I want to kill you." And then there are

the routine masturbations on society's ills: "Americana," "She's Got

Issues" and "Pay the Man."