Rancid: Indestructible

Adam Williams



Label: Hellcat
US Release Date: 2003-08-26
UK Release Date: 2003-08-25

A decade ago Epitaph Records added a group of hungry young punks from Berkeley, CA to its impressive indie roster, and issued their self titled debut album, Rancid. The record was fast and brash and embodied a true punk rock aesthetic that had been invisible since the vibrant early '80s L.A. scene.

The timing of the release was interesting, as the musical world was still in the stranglehold of grunge; anything deviating from that genre's formulaic approach, (particularly punk), would have appeared doomed to failure. Rancid was successful, however, and paved the way for 1994's blistering Let's Go and 1995's breakthrough And out Come the Wolves. These albums demonstrated that Rancid was far more than an underground group or flavor of the minute; the band was a talented unit, true to their musical influences and capable of competing on the broader level with the hits "Ruby Soho" and "Time Bomb".

Detractors criticized Rancid for being a poor man's version of the Clash, but such accusations did not hurt record sales, nor did they deter the band from releasing two additionally strong albums, 1998's Life Won't Wait and 2000's Rancid.

Now, after a three year hiatus, the band is back to prove its staying power with Indestructible, a nineteen track salvo of glorious musical mayhem.

At the very least, the new album is a testament to Rancid's maturity as a recording entity. A variety of textures are woven into the songs, ranging from the melodic rhythms of "Red Hot Moon" and "Arrested in Shanghai" to the unbridled aggression of "David Courtney". The band shows that it can shift gears without missing a beat, creating some fine music in the process.

Rancid's dexterity in no way suggests that the band has gone soft or mainstream. Quite the opposite is true, as Indestructible is anchored by half a dozen genuine punk classics. "Django", "Travis Bickle", and "Spirit of '87" maintain enough edge and sneer to show that the group has not lost touch with its roots, while the furious, bass-driven "Out of Control" hearkens back to the Ramones' timeless "Warthog". Rest assured, Rancid is still capable of unfurling its sonic rage with great success.

Although Clash comparisons will always be present due to Tim Armstrong's Strummeresque vocal style, the similarities are byproducts of influence and affection rather than blatant rip-off. So what if Indestructible's title track and "Born Frustrated" are reminiscent of London Calling, they are fine songs in their own right.

If there is only one knock on Indestructible, it's that much of the album's strong lyrical content is buried beneath Armstrong's ever present slur. This is nothing new to Rancid fans, but it does take away from the scope of the group's songwriting skills, (although not many punk aficionados are looking to become enlightened through socially conscious lyrics).

The most noteworthy aspect of Indestructible comes by way of Rancid's longevity and success. With the drastic musical shifts of the last decade, who would have guessed that a punk band could flourish while continuing to produce commercially viable albums? Amazingly, the past ten years have seen grunge, hair metal, and Britpop run their respective courses, while a bunch of tattooed, studded-jacket, California punks endure. Even with the watering down of the genre by assorted bubblegum bands, Rancid has remained true to itself and its fan base. For that fact alone, the group is deserving of praise.

In delivering another fine album, Rancid continues to buck the trend and confound the experts by remaining a legitimate punk band with mainstream appeal.

Face it, Rancid and Indestructible are just that good.





A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.


Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.


PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.


'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.


Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.


Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.


Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.


The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.


Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.


Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.


Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.


'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.


Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.


Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.


Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.


The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.