The Offspring, ‘Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace’ (Columbia)
Fifteen years ago, the prospect of California’s Offspring infiltrating the mainstream with their playful, turbo-charged punk anthems was relatively exhilarating. Today, sounding little different, they won’t inspire, upset, or amuse anyone. Dexter Holland slings vague tales of personal struggle (“Takes Me Nowhere”) and spews ineffectual social commentary (“Stuff Is Messed Up”) like a shopworn cheerleader, hoping the efficient, stadium-worthy choruses will suffice. Occasionally, the band does stumble on to something genuine: The moving “Kristy, Are You Doing Okay?” emotes compassionately, while “Nothingtown” neatly captures backwater boredom.