Rancid’s last eponymous LP was a punk-rock pissing contest: All serrated guitar, crotch-grabbing grunts and enough velocity to qualify the band for the Formula One circuit. The group’s latest tones down the teeth-gnashing and picks up where 1998’s diffuse Life Won’t Wait left off, working in organ, steel drum and sad-eyed break-up songs with the chest-pounding punk expected from these Bay Area badasses.

The most poignant tracks on Indestructible are fueled by frontman Tim Armstrong’s recent divorce from his wife — and Distillers frontwoman — Brody Armstrong. “Tropical London” blends Armstrong’s marble-mouth delivery and lovelorn lyrics into the sound of a woman walking out the door. “Fall Back Down” is a hard-luck anthem for the ages, with purring Farfisa and a chorus as rousing as a 21-gun salute.

Elsewhere, knuckles get broken — in addition to Armstrong’s heart — on “Spirit of ’87,” a raw-lunged ode to rock and roll that ranks among this band’s best. Ska-inflected thumper “Red Hot Moon” comes buoyed by the sandpaper-coarse raps of Transplants growler Skinhead Rob, and “Django” is a shot of revved-up rockabilly stiff enough to make eyes water. Right along with Armstrong’s.

Categories: Music