“Peace In Our Time”, the highly anticipated new album from Santa Cruz’s punk icons Good Riddance, sounds ready to attack from the moment you spin it up. The album’s opening track “Disputatio” is a war cry, with battle drums and lowdown river dragging bass guitar that will rattle your speakers and steel you for the onslaught ahead. You know 25 seconds in, and again at 37 seconds, that Good Riddance is interested in only one thing: picking up right where they left off.
With “Contrition”, one of their catchiest songs in years, and subsequently “Take It To Heart” one of their heaviest, three cuts in you start to think you might be listening to the best album of the year. Then “No Greater Fight” and the unbelievably toe tapping “Shiloh” blaze by kicking up a cloud of punk rock dust, and by the time “Dry Season” and “Year Zero”’s full fisted gut punchers send you to the Thesaurus in a way you thought only Bad Religion songs could, you fucking know you’re listening to the best album of the year.
Thematically, “Peace In Our Time” features some of the same timeless and, unfortunately, very relevant challenges to the listener to take a stand for peace in a peace-less time. To stand up for what is right, for equality and the right to live free. And that goes for human beings and animals alike, by the way. There are also more internal rumination’s, such as on “Washed Away” and the poppy “Grace and Virtue.” There are more mature thoughts and feelings explored and much of the anger toward the failed state is more analytical and less flash bang rally cry than before. But fuck, these guys are growing, their kids are growing, their world is growing, it would just ring false if they were still writing as if this was the year “Ballads From the Revolution” came out.
Typical of Good Riddance “Peace In Our Time” is also a brief little record. 14 songs that come and go in about the time it would take you to watch a “Modern Family” episode on your DVR. Most songs clock in around the two minute mark and not a single one is able to prolong its life long enough to grab three. But I don’t mind. Not only is this a tried and true operating procedure for this band, but the brevity actually helps sell the point they’re trying to make. Get in, hit ‘em with everything you’ve got, get the fuck out again.
Musically, this record sounds great. It was recorded at the new superstar studio of punk excellence The Blasting Room, in Ft. Collins, Colorado, by those magicians of paper sharp production, Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore. “Peace In Our Time” is a lug nut of tightness, highlighting the instrumental prowess of Luke Pabich, Chuck Platt and Sean Sellers and the gritty sheen of Russ Rankin’s vocals, both individually and as a whole. Does it sound live off the floor? No, it doesn’t. It sounds like a band in a studio perfecting their sound. Which is also fine. If I want to hear the live versions of these songs, I’ll keep an ear to the grindstone as far as their tour dates are concerned.
I hate comparing records to other records. I’m a strong advocate for judging a record on its own laurels, not the laurels of the records that came before it. With that said, I like all of Good Riddance’s albums. They’ve never released something that I thought was less than stellar. That also doesn’t mean I can’t have fav’s. Like most people, I think “A Comprehensive Guide To Moderne Rebellion” is Good Riddance’s best effort. Would I piss myself if the band (or label) handed the master tapes over to Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore and had them beef the sound up a bit. Have “Moderne’’ be ‘’Moderne’’ but sound like ‘‘My Repulblic’’? Yes, I would piss right into my pants. But I’m not comparing this to that or to anything else. And as a record of its own accord, “Peace In Our Time” is great.
So forget the naysayers, forget the ‘aging punks’ comments, forget the last show or the hiatus or the reunion. This is Good Riddance, the same Good Riddance we know and love, the same Good Riddance we wanted this to be. And this is a Good Riddance record. And it fucking rules. You can go ahead with the microphone drop now Russ, you’ve earned it.