I approached the new Social D album hesitantly, as if it were a historical lover returning to town. Turning the album over in my hands, I ruminated. What was it like last time we met? Should I bother calling? Would it be the same? Would I feel that old familiar flame? I’d heard he’d been successful, become iconic, reached all his worldly goals. News of his return had reached fever pitch across town. Had it gone to his head? The artwork and the titles are so quintessentially the “new RAB revolution.” I scoffed and rolled my eyes. Maybe it was me. Maybe I was the one who had changed. I set it aside, disaffected. He had gone soft, an old pander. Pangs of guilt plagued me. My anger surprised me. For over fifteen years, that voice, those lyrics, and that guitar had been the only thing that could rid me of life’s little aches and pains. About a week after dismissing the album, I fell on some hard times and reached for my cure-all—I put that album back on, turned it up and was sustained. All is as it was and as it should be. Don’t mistake the painfully optimistic song titles (“Reach for the Sky,” “Live Before You Die,” “I Wasn’t Born to Follow”) for glibness—Ness has traded his anger, remorse, spite, hate, self-loathing and pain for insightful satisfaction, stability and self-acceptance. Some things have happened in his heart, mind and soul since the band’s last studio release in 1997. Musically and lyrically, it sounds just like Social Distortion should—merely humbled and faithful instead of reckless and dejected or full of self-pity. One of many examples: “I triumphed in the face of adversity and I became a man I never thought I’d be. And now the greatest challenge is this thing called love, I guess I’m not as tough as I thought I was.” In my mind, I’ve been asking him to marry me since I was thirteen… I wonder if he’d accept now that we’re both grown-ups?
–thiringer (Time Bomb)