Over their four-decade career, the band have established a set of themes and tones for their records. On their first LP since 2004's Cool to Be You, they hit almost every mark: juvenile humour, epicurean-themed blitzkriegs and heart-on-sleeve anthems all make appearances here. Yet Hypercaffium Spazzinate (the title's caffeine reference ticks yet another box) never feels like a retread.
As OG pop-punkers, the band — whose members are now sprawled across three states — should have wrung every ounce of inspiration from that paradigm 20 years ago. But rather than approach each of those topics from the perspective of teenagers, as they did when the mould was cast in the early '80s, the band continue to update their views from the vantage point of their advancing ages.
"No Fat Burger," updates "I Like Food," tackling shifting priorities head-on by detailing all the foods singer Milo Aukerman can no longer enjoy for fear of heart disease. Meanwhile, drummer and group leader Bill Stevenson delivers the album's best and most heartfelt track, "Without Love," giving pop-punks another romantic totem to which they can aspire.
The band have been teasing new material since regrouping in 2010, following surgery that removed a grapefruit-sized brain tumour from Stevenson. Aukerman's "Comeback Kid" chronicles his recovery and kicked off a round of writing the catalyzed the record. Hypercaffium could have been just another instalment in Descendents' long and fruitful career, and that would have been just fine; its biggest surprise is that it offers fans something new if nevertheless familiar, thereby cementing the band's continued relevance after all these years. (Epitaph)