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Let The Dominoes Fall Mark Eglinton , June 15th, 2009 12:53

Rancid spending years coiled up in the musical undergrowth like some kind of angry reptile suggested a few things. The first and most worrying was that the seventh album from the East Bay punks had turned into their equivalent of Chinese Democracy. In this case, though, it’s not as straightforward as that — while this album has taken the best part of two presidential terms to turn up, it’s definitely worth the wait. Its nineteen tracks capture exactly what makes Rancid the uncompromising force they are. It seems that the side-projects undertaken by the various members have served to reinvigorate and refocus, which explains their decision as a band to sit out much of this century so far.

What's most striking and ultimately welcome, given the record's considerable length, is the diversity of styles on offer here. While ‘East Bay Night’, ‘Last One To Die’ and ‘Skull City’ are pure Rancid as we know it, the title track owes more to old-school 1950s rock n roll than anything else. Not only that: ‘Up To No Good’ throws in a dose of ska while also featuring a guest appearance from the legendary Booker T. True to their genre’s ethos, Rancid have never been ones to shy away from political commentary; on Let The Dominoes Fall ‘This Place’ paints an accurately bleak picture of the current economic climate, while ‘Civilian Ways’ salutes soldiers in Iraq — no surprise given that singer Tim Armstrong’s own brother died while serving in the US military.

If there is a disappointment it’s that the overall sound possesses a distinctly clean and polished feel distinctly at odds with the band’s past outings, which were defined by a grubby and snotty nastiness. It’s just possible that time away and advancing age have smoothed off some of their edge, but given the undeniable fact that US mainstream punk itself is in hiatus right now, this record will no doubt be well received by followers of both the band and the genre.