Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Rancid: Life Won't Wait [Epitaph, 1998]
With punk revivalism deemed almost as uncouth as frat-boy ska in these postalt times, the three-year hiatus since . . . And Out Come the Wolves may have flattened the rep of one of the few bands to get either style right. That's how pop works--you work your claim, times change, you lose. But art is more forgiving, and aesthetically, this beaty disc is an improvement--snakier in the bass and loopier in the vocals, careening forward in a lovely confusion that never approaches thrash or march (well, maybe march). Whatever their ideas about black lung, glass-pipe murder, baseball bats in Poland, liberty failed liberty, and love redeeming love, they make you glad they have feelings about them--and convinced that for once you know the difference between feeling and pose. A-