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|Official Release Date||Jul 21, 2009|
track listing1. Incomplete2. Leave Mine to Me3. Stranger Than Fiction4. Tiny Voices5. The Handshake6. Better Off Dead7. Infected8. Television9. Individual10. Hooray for Me...11. Slumber12. Marked13. Inner Logic14. What It Is15. 21st Century (Digital Boy)
descriptionIt seems that Bad Religion's eighth LP is a rare case of selling out in reverse. Having signed to the big bad major wolf ("what big teeth you have, Grandma Atlantic"), the band members seem too intent on showing their fans they're not going wimpy, so they turn their back on the advances of Generator and Recipe for Hate in order to bring back the naked aggression. Stranger Than Fiction is back to the go-for-the-jugular stuff, pretending that the wonderful modifications and variety of their recent work never existed -- thus the qualms about this LP. It feels too regressive, a sort of pandering. That said, if they are going to go backwards, I for one am going with them -- there is still no one better at this stuff. The opening "Incomplete" features some of the most intense verse singing by the ever-soaring Greg Graffin, behind a muscular, punishing sound helped by guest guitar from the MC5's Wayne Kramer. Almost as storming in the same vein are philosophical songs such as "Leave Mine to Me," "Individual," "Tiny Voices," and the powerhouse "Marked," all uptempo barnburners, pulverizing in their rapid passion. The biggest gratification, though, is that a few songs do seem more in line with the maturity of the previous two LPs. "Handshake" is the album's summit, thanks to an oven-hot chorus and an outro-coda that has to rank among their ten best moments. "Slumber" is a slower show-stopper, with a pleading barrage of harmony vocals, while the title track builds on Generator's "Atomic Garden" with an unusual Beatles/Jam singsong melody. On the negative side, "Infected" into "Television" are the two least effective songs of their 15 years, the former a third-rate "Sanity," the latter bereft of hooks. In any case, it is not to be missed and it will haunt you in your sleep.
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