If you're one of the few people who like [a]Radiohead[/a] or [B]The Verve[/B], there's a fair chance you hate [B]The Offspring[/B]...

Strangely enough, selling records like it’s going out of fashion has never been a problem for The Offspring. Relics of another time, some strange Never-Nevermind-land where stripy tights and goatees ruled the earth, fashion ceased to matter to them about the same time they discovered that you couldn’t, like, literally surf the zeitgeist.

If you’re one of the few people who like [a]Radiohead[/a] or The Verve, there’s a fair chance you hate The Offspring. Hate them for being too American, Californian punk kids who – is there any other kind? – never grew up. Hate them with an instinctive reflex that covers all tattooed, spike-haired bands from the West Coast, even though it takes a special kind of heartlessness to turn on a band who call an ‘intermission’ halfway through their set, fill the air with confetti and bubbles and have a bearded cohort offer the front row drinks from an usherette’s tray. Hate them, even though you know your heart’s not in it. It can’t be. It’s up there with singer Dexter Holland, bouncing up and down to ‘Come Out And Play’.

There are no great claims to be made for The Offspring and their art, except that, live, they rock their simple moral universe on its axis. Look for the meaning of life in their relentless shouting and you’ll end up thinking divine justice is dispensed by a giant cosmic skateboard. Let them hurtle you through the red-amber-green dynamics of ‘Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)’, accompanied by a row of percussive plastic skulls, and you won’t be that bothered any more.

Just as the Britpop closet is stuffed full of shameful fringes, stripper vicars and saucy seaside landladies, so the US should have some explaining to do over the pneumatic-drill satire of ‘Why Don’t You Get A Job’ or the cheap shopping channel-Nirvana of ‘Nitro’ and ‘Cool To Hate’. It’s even harder to believe in their hard-edged American dystopia when their guitarist is called Noodles and their pierced chins can’t disguise the fact they’d be more at home grilling zucchini for their kids than feeling the heat of the street. Yet although it might be cool to hate, this glossy, sweet-natured punk rock just leaves you with a warm glow, the pleasure of hearing chemically precise riffs react with an audience who want no more than to [I]jump high[/I].

And for white, middle-class, middle-aged, science-nerd guys, that’s pretty fly.