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Bad Religion | Generator | review | punk | Lollipop
by Tim Den
With their first decade behind them, Bad Religion – like any sensible entities of creativity – were becoming more and more adventurous with their craft. By '91, after having conquered their genre and all but reinvented it, they were looking to harness pop punk's essence into broader sonic attacks. With Generator, they achieved just that.
Called "the dark album" by fans, Generator was a slight departure for the band, without going completely Into the Unknown. After all, the members were now much older and wiser, with the understanding that maturation didn't have to mean a change in style. The combination of new drummer Bobby Schayer, ever-improving recording technology, and the fact that the band were now a tighly-wound unit gave Generator a polished sheen unlike anything the band had produced before. The playing was tight, the execution slick, the themes more "grown-up" than ever. Lyrics were prefaced with literary passages (quotes from Stephen Hawkin, Charles Darwin, Thomas Shepard, Lord Mondobbo, etc.), tackling subjects like the origins of life and human deterioration. Coupled with the ominous album artwork and longer songs that took their time sinking their claws into you, Generator felt heavier than Bad Religion's previous works. Some scoffed at the seemingly slower pace, some missed Pete Finestone's primal bashings, but for the most part, the album was embraced as a well-taken step. The title track, "The Answer," "Atomic Garden," and "Only Entertainment" would all become staples in the coming years, proving that Generator was indeed a powerful album.
If this was the band's response to critics who accused them of repeating themselves, then its follow-up would silence all naysayers once and for all.