All Problematic

Pop-punk's elder statesmen faced a daunting task in trying to live up to the amazing harmonic chaos of their previous Mass Nerder disc. That record came closest to matching the start to finish pleasures of their finest hour, on the 1989 Allroy's Revenge release. Most of their output since then was interesting, but were often directionless albums with half the tracks being mediocre throwaways that belied the band's previous greatness. I'm happy to report that not only is Problematic better than Mass Nerder, it may be their best album ever! Featuring 18 tracks that clock in at just under 35 minutes, this is a throwback to the band's glory days as Descendents. It's also the collaborative product of a band that is comfortable with itself, and members who are coming to terms with the fact that they are no longer loser kids, but adults with something to say, and don't feel the need to try and do anything other than what they know best. And no, that doesn't mean they've forgotten how to have fun or how to be heartbroken either. Lovelorn angst and driving melodic punk on trademark tracks like "Carry You," "Stupid Kind of Love." "What are You For?" and "Teresa" are juxtaposed with deeper "meaning" songs like "Roir," "The Skin," "Real People," "Lock 'em Away" and "Crucifiction," and the light-hearted romp of "She Broke My Dick," which sounds like a throwback to the Descendents' I Don't Want to Grow Up days. Musically too, the band is on top of its game with everyone bashing and bruising their respective instruments, including their vocal chords, into submission. Problematic is a glorious return to form for a band that, like a fine wine, keeps getting better with age. (Epitaph)