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Descendents

Descendents front man Milo Aukerman, Ph.D., might be the smartest guy in rock. But more remarkable than his knack for biochemistry is his exceptional grasp of some elementary practices that elude many players who've been in the game 25-plus years.

Lesson one from Dr. Milo: Don't fix what ain't broke. The Descendents' first LP in nearly eight years is exactly what they've done since 1978, only a tad slower: catchy two- and three-minute bursts of pop-punk. They invented this stuff, so they can do whatever they want with it. Unlike another doctoral-level punker and his slavishly overrated band -- that'd be Brett Gurewitz and Bad Religion -- Aukerman understands that a big vocabulary impresses only teenagers. And this album wasn't made with them in mind. Instead of delivering an SAT lesson, he gets funny: "And I go 'yadda-ya-yadda-ya,'" he melodically raps in the album opener, "Talking," "And you go 'yadda-ya-yadda-ya'... I'm out here alone/ Talking on the phone/Maybe we'll fall in love when I get home." Milo, you had us at "Yadda-ya." -- D.X. Ferris

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