9th & Walnut

Written by: PP on 16/09/2021 19:48:06

One album each decade, that's the Descendents promise. Aside from their 80s active period from 1982-1987, they released "Everything Sucks" in 1996, "Cool To Be You" in 2004, and "Hypercaffium Spazzinate" in 2016. Is it just me or does it feel like they've only been getting better over the years? Now that we've entered a new decade, that promise is fulfilled early with their eighth album "9th & Walnut", which means we probably have another ten years or so before the next one...So what's it like?

Let's state the obvious first: if you're a Descendents fan, you'll like this one as well. After all, despite stylistic variation between hardcore and pop punk throughout their career, their signature sound is so recognizable that only Bad Religion surpasses them in terms of consistency and familiarity. At the same time, "9th & Walnut" leans way more on their hardcore roots on "Milo Goes To College" than any of their other records released since the 80s. It's less melodic and more to the point, evident also in its length: 18 songs are delivered in just about 25 minutes. Short but sweet, yet it sounds like classic Descendents. Bursts of hardcore here, treble-charged guitar melodies there, it's all in the package, guaranteed to capture the imagination of fans both old and new.

At the same time, the record's mid-section from "Baby Doncha Know" onwards is rammed with infectiously catchy tracks. "I'm Shaky", for instance, is instantly memorable. "Tired Of Being Tired" features slick bass lines echoing the golden 90s era of melodic punk, whereas "Mohicans" is arguably one of the finest Descendents songs of all time. If this one doesn't get you singing along from the first listen, then melodic punk rock probably isn't the genre for your poor lost soul. The beautiful nostalgia bomb of "To Remember" goes all-in with the melodic ring complete with a classic chorus to reel you in.

In the opposing corner, "Nightage" leads the charge with its distorted, angry expression echoing the oldest days when punk and hardcore were effectively one and the same. Similarly, "Grudge" plays on the unconventional bursts of bass and guitars that songs like "Coffee Mug" are made of, while "It's A Hectic World" zig-zags up-and-down the lower end of the scale before ending with a catchy chorus in its own right. Plenty more like them in the bag, too.

But "Hypercaffium Spazzinate", am I right? It's just a better album, might even be close to their best overall (sacrilege, I know). It felt like a tighter and more uniform album, whereas "9th & Walnut" swings back-and-forth between hardcore-rooted and the more melodic material of the last couple of albums. There's a couple of the darker-sounding tracks that just don't hit off with me the same way as "Mohicans" does, for instance. That said, it's still a solid record by the punk rock veterans overall, just not among their best.

Download: Mohicans, To Remember, Tired Of Being Tired, Sailor's Choice, Baby Doncha Know, I'm Shaky, It's A Hectic World
For the fans of: Bad Religion, Swingin' Utters, All, Adolescents, NOFX
Listen: Facebook

Release date 23.07.2021

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