This is certainly fast and furious...

Talk about a guilty conscience. In fact, [a]Rancid[/a] are acting so suspiciously, and have gone to such lengths, you might even conclude they don’t want you to buy this at all. Because, as if troubled by the millions of record sales and global spiky top infamy that spawned a horde of bondage-trousered imitators, for their fifth album [a]Rancid[/a] are providing no information, no interviews, no new photos and no promotional rigmarole whatsoever.

So all we have to go on is the record – simply, almost blankly, titled and sleeved – and the lone proclamation that appears on their website, it tells us this is “the fastest, most hardcore record we have ever made.”

Living up to such non-hype might prove difficult but, in this case at least, [a]Rancid[/a] don’t lie. Thankfully lacking the comedy ska bletherings of their last two albums, this is certainly fast and furious and, where once they seduced the charts with songwriting, now they want to bludgeon with hardcore muscle.

Such concerns sit a lot easier on their shoulders than their previous attempts to rewrite Oi’s legacy for a sunny climate. ‘Disgruntled’ and ‘Dead Bodies’ are chaotic, splutteringly angry, and flirt with straight edge directness, while po-faced politics get a look in on ‘Rwanda’ and ‘Radio Havana’. Obviously, as those black-and-white titles suggest, it’s chronically naive, but at the same time you could almost forget the Carnaby Street postcard haircuts and the fact these people think Sham 69 are unheralded geniuses.

Not quite though. Because the goofball – Blink 182 with a political conscience and a sociology qualification – was always a large part of their charm. Fortunately, lifting this above a straight homage to the ’80s DC scene, it’s still here in large measure as they can’t totally disguise their catchy prowess for the shimmering guitar and gang posturing of ‘Let Me Go’ or the full-on silliness of ‘Poison’.

For a band who obviously feel responsible for foisting Lit upon the world, an attempt to make amends can only be a good thing. They might have done the hardcore make-over by halves but, in the unlikely event that no sell-out equals no sales, you suspect the boost to their punk rock cred will more than make up for a rollicking from the bank manager.