Rancid – Tomorrow Never Comes – Review

As with all bands whose lights shine brightest, Rancid have of course created a score of copycats over the years.

Genre: Punk

Label: Hellcat/Epitaph

Released: June 2nd 2023

Members: 

Tim Armstrong, vocals, guitar,
Matt Freeman, bass guitar, vocals,
Lars Frederiksen, guitar, vocals,
Branden Steineckert, drums, percussion, backing vocals,

Additional personnel

Kevin Bivona , keyboards, backing vocals

Tracklisting:

1. “Tomorrow Never Comes”  2:26
2. “Mud, Blood, & Gold” 1:12
3. “Devil in Disguise” 1:58
4. “New American” 2:37
5. “The Bloody & Violent History” 2:14
6. “Don’t Make Me Do It” 0:58
7. “It’s a Road to Righteousness” 2:18
8. “Live Forever” 1:21
9. “Drop Dead Inn” 2:01
10. “Prisoners Song” 2:21
11. “Magnificent Rogue” 1:25
12. “One Way Ticket” 1:50
13. “Hellbound Train” 1:25
14. “Eddie the Butcher” 1:34
15. “Hear Us Out” 1:26
16. “When the Smoke Clears”  1:39
 
Rancid’s last album ‘Trouble Maker’ came out in 2017, which followed 2014’s ‘Honor Is All We Know’. It’s been therefore, some seven years since we had new output from the band and we were beginning to think this day might never come. 

But come it has and unlike many bands releasing new albums these days, a Rancid release still means something. There’s a buzz surrounding it, a definite level of excitement and anticipation. Just like, for want of a better description, the way it used to and should be. 

They stamped their footprint on the world with genre defining albums such as ‘Let’s Go’ and ‘…And Out Come The Wolves’ which contained the content that people could relate to, embrace and accept the band as the voice they desperately needed. As with all bands whose lights shine brightest, Rancid have of course created a score of copycats over the years. None have had the impact that Rancid have and whilst many were waiting in the wings for that light to burn itself out, it never has and in 2023, we find ourselves excitedly reviewing the band’s 10th studio album. 

I suppose the key component here is ‘expectation and anticipation’. We aren’t expecting surprises but this is the band that gave us ‘…And Out Come The Wolves’ so the bar is of course a high one as far as quality is concerned.

As such, with a slightly nervous tremble in the hand, I pressed play. ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’ a title alone that raises a smile because we’ve been thinking that about new Rancid music for years and yet, it has come, it’s here and from the off, it’s just what the doctor ordered. The doctor in question sitting in the producer’s chair is none other than ‘old faithful’ himself, Brett Gurewitz. Opening with the title track, the band deliver the style and energy that we recognise when they reconvene. It’s the sound of a collective and reminds us just what they can do when all sat round the same table together.

Sponsored by Weight Watchers, the album wins the award for Slimmer of the Month, clocking in a just 28-odd minutes yet giving us 16 tracks in total. Each song does exactly what it needs to. Turn up, make your point, fuck off…. Job done. Only five of the songs need to take more than 5 minutes to make the intended point. The shortest track, ‘Don’t Make Me Do It’ manages to shoehorn it’s messaging into the mix in under a minute (as well as sounding more than a little like Gurewitz’s own Bad Religion along the way). 

Firm favourite after a few play throughs is definitely ‘New American’ with Tim Armstrong and the rest of the band taking a little longer to create an evocative anthem. As he sings about the time he and Eddie the Butcher were raising hell in Singapore over some 16 days, the guitars hook us in and Matt Freeman’s bassline drops in a glorious groove to make this a track that needs to be heard live. 

No longer do the band have to endure the comparisons to artists like The Clash, although on ‘Devil In Disguise’ they do comfortably slot into Pogues territory. No bad thing because the music is ageless and with some 30 years under their belt, the band deserve to happily show off their own influences and do so without any sense of irony. The poet in Shane McGowan is channelled perfectly through Armstrong and the world is definitely a better place for it. 

Short, sharp, to the point (as always), the seven year gap since ‘Trouble Maker’ has done the band no harm at all and if anything, it’s allowed them to offer us an album that feels as modern as it does reflective. Not many acts can do that but (not as expected but certainly as hoped for) Rancid have done it with ease. 

Score: 9/10

Reviewed by : Adrian Hextall

Talking of the show:

The tour includes a show at London’s OVO Arena, Wembley on June 20, followed by a second gig at the O2 Victoria Warehouse in Manchester on June 21. The London show has been upgraded from the original venue of Brixton Academy which of course remains closed.

Tickets can be purchased here.

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