Apparently you can't judge a punk by his cover. This Orange County, Calif., quartet tries to come off as the ultimate mosh-pit menace on its tremendous fourth disc, blasting enough sonic energy to stun small animals at 10 paces and offering plenty of smart-ass rebellion, starting with the sarcastic parental-guidance disclaimer (spoken by veteran punk Jello Biafra) that opens the CD.
The truth is, these rough boys are actually a consummate pop band. Buried in each 75-mph song is a catchy riff that softens the assault—making them sound like the Bay City Rollers had they come from broken homes. The music is both more exotic and more accessible than that of the band's punk peers, and the lyrics examine rather than exploit teen alienation. Whether it's the drunken, abusive parents who pass those traits onto their kids in "Way Down the Line" or the self-mocking line "Being positive is so uncool" in "Cool to Hate," there is more going on with Ixnay on the Hombre than meets the ear. (Columbia)