Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Bad Religion: All Ages [Epitaph, 1995]
Maintaining a sonic constancy that makes the retirees in the Ramones seem chameleonic by comparison, these Valley boys are monotonous enough to benefit from a best-of, but don't think they've ever settled for a duff album--they're too focused, and too brainy. No doubt a better writer would find a simpler, more eloquent way to say, for instance, "Culture was the seed of proliferation/but it has gotten melded/into an inharmonic whole." But a) the song bashes like a motherfucker anyway. And b) the big words are a hook. If their antipolitical ecopessimism isn't spreading like wildfire, which is just as well anyway, give them credit for aiming to challenge, not convince. And believe that where most bands with a message for the masses wind up looking like bigger fools than they already are, Ph.D candidate Greg Graffin and departed homeboy Brett Gurewitz aren't just better informed than their fans--they're probably better informed than you. A-