Five absolutely perfect albums from the 1990s

These albums stood out in an otherwise mixed decade.
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They formed from the ashes of Operation Ivy, bringing ska to punk and helping bands like Green Day and Offspring forever change the way punk music functioned in the world of pop. Rancid's third album, created as the major labels (“the wolves”) were circling, yielded several instant classics.

These were insanely catchy songs like “Time Bomb,” “Ruby Soho,” and “Roots Radical,” that still retained the rough edges of underground punk. The sixteen other non-hits are just as good, from the rocking opener “Maxwell Murder,” to the oddly poignant “Olympia, WA,” from the pounding “Junkie Man,” to the spastic “Daly City Train,” every song fits.

Guitarists Tim Armstrong and Lars Frederiksen are not particularly good singers. (Nor is bass player Matt Freeman – he didn’t sing any leads on And Out Come the Wolves but he would on subsequent albums.) Their voices are perfect for Rancid’s songs though. They are just good enough to never get grating, just as every track on Out Come the Wolves is just melodious enough to stave off the ponderous quality of so many other punk rockers. Last year – 28 years after their seminal punk recording, Rancid put out Tomorrow Never Comes, one of the best albums of 2023.