DESCENDENTS: Hypercaffium Spazzinate: CD/LP

The arrival of a new Descendents album is something to celebrate and after the rather inconsistent and lackluster predecessor, Cool to Be You, I was craving a return to the musical brilliance that the band has been renowned for. Twelve years is a long time to wait between releases. But the result is well worth it as the sixteen tracks emphasize a renewed high level of songwriting from start to finish and which are clearly produced to allow their energy to burst free. Yes, Milo’s voice is showing signs of wear and tear, but it adds a new depth to the sound without losing its distinctiveness. A special mention must be given to “No Fat Burger,” the antithesis of the classic “I Like Food,” as it serves as a public health announcement, warning against an unhealthy diet. Who would ever have thought that would feature in a Descendents song? Despite the huge positives, of which there are numerous, one negative looms large over the record for many in the U.K. and that is the use of the word “spazz.” For decades, this has been used in a derogatory way as the shortened version of “spastic,” and whilst acknowledging its different meaning in the U.S.A., it’s something I’m uneasy with both in the album’s title and the, otherwise excellent, song “Limiter.” To some it might be taking political correctness too far, but years of hearing the word used as a slur is hard to forget. That aside, this is an excellent return to form from one of my all-time favorite bands. –Rich Cocksedge (Epitaph, epitaph.com)