Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 03:01
The Los Angeles punk rocker outfit Bad Religion has been fighting shady ethics in America from the pulpit, to the corporate office, to the White House for more than 30 years and its 16th album True North, is just the same, for better and for worse. Don’t fix what aint broke seems to be Bad Religion’s motto.
As always, the politics are front and center and lead singer Greg Graffin, Ph.D. navigates the well-worn themes of inequality, capitalism, and hypocrisy with excellent lyrical competence. It’s the kind of band that can sing a song about the simple satisfaction of dropping an F-bomb—True North’s unrepentant single “Fuck You”—and still have you cracking open a dictionary.
Layered harmonies soar over each track giving an almost operatic sound that sometimes feels too polished. Being a little same-y is not exactly a fresh criticism of Bad Religion, but only two of True North’s tracks—“Dharma And The Bomb” and “Hello Cruel World”—have the same variation of tempo the band tried on 1998’s No Substance and they are much more memorable for it. But each guitar lick is fresh and triumphant enough for the short and sweet songs, particularly the fantastic closer “Changing Tide.”
As long as Bad Religion has the corporate American theocratic hegemony to rail against, the band will keep on rocking. Which would be nice if it wasn’t just powerslides and that same drum beat over and over. Bad Religion moral compass is set true north in a satisfying way, but the music could stand to explore a bit.