Rancid – Tomorrow Never Comes (Album Review)

rancid tomorrow never comes album review

Rancid – Tomorrow Never Comes 
Released: June 2nd, 2023


Tim Armstrong // Guitar & Vocals
Lars Frederiksen // Guitar & Vocals
Matt Freeman // Bass & Vocals
Branden Steineckert // Drums & Vocals



Rancid is a band that has achieved a level of success that few can match. Formed in 1991 the Berkley punks have managed to transcend their own music through an almost iconoclastic rejection of mainstream ‘90s culture, standing as peers in an industry full of nihilistic rockers, angsty skate punks, sensationalist rappers, and charismatic pop stars. They’ve done things their own way for more than 30 years and every single one of us is better for it. Their tenth studio album, Tomorrow Never Comes is definitely in the upper tier of their discography, but it’s also a bit of a mixed bag that requires more than one listen to fully appreciate. 

While Tomorrow Never Comes is a good record, it falls short of achieving greatness. At times, it feels complacent and lacks the contagiousness of Rancid’s earlier work. Tim Armstrong‘s choruses feel all too familiar and lack the conviction I have come to expect of him. There are enough moments of greatness in this record to make it well worth your while, but it never feels completely congruent. All in all, this is a record that’s going to need to sit with me for a substantial amount of time before I completely make up my mind. 

The musicality is easily the best Rancid have produced in years but vocally they feel a little stagnant – somewhat stuck in the same place they were nearly ten years ago with …Honor Is All We Know. It feels odd to say because I’ve never considered Rancid a band that played it safe creatively. But an album is the sum of many moving parts and as a whole it kind of works. ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’, the opening track and first single from the record is an absolute banger and the same energy carries on throughout the record with blistering tracks like ‘Don’t Make Me Do’, which is slightly reminiscent of Armstrong and Freeman’s Operation Ivy days, and ‘Live Forever’ which could easily feel at place on Let’s Go or Indestructible.

What really pops in Tomorrow Never Comes is the rhythm section of Matt Freeman and Branden Steineckert. These two have never been tighter, Steineckert’s drumming locks into Freeman’s ingenious basslines in a way that grounds them and gives even the busiest lick plenty of emphasis, but also room to breathe. Freeman is arguably one of the greatest bass players on the planet and his sensibilities on this record are as brilliant as ever. There are many highlights across the record, but what he does on ‘When The Smoke Clears’ is a classic example of Freeman’s gift. It’s not overly complicated but he briefly drops out of his counter melody in the middle of each verse and creates a dissonance which when resolved thrusts the listener into the chorus and exposes the emotional core of the music. It’s music theory 101 but done with a finesse and dexterity that rarely shows up in punk music, let alone at the speed Freeman achieves it. This sort of songwriting is what separates Rancid from a vast ocean of mediocre facsimiles.

Rancid have adopted a much more minimalistic approach over the last few records and while the strategy doesn’t have the manic energy of their first two decades, Tomorrow Never Comes proves that the band can actually do ‘more with less’. They’ve matured as songwriters and as much as I want to see Freedman shred solos like he does on ‘95s ‘Maxwell Murder’ there is a hell of a lot more to learn by looking at his modern approach.

We can’t judge a record by what we want it to be, only by what it is and Tomorrow Never Comes is a good record. It might not be an all-timer but it is a worthy inclusion in a discography that includes a number of the greatest punk records of all time. Rancid are a great band but maybe they just don’t take the creative risks they used to – and that’s fine. Good music is still good music and maybe that’s enough. 

rancid tomorrow never comes album review

Rancid – Tomorrow Never Comes tracklisting

1. Tomorrow Never Comes
2. Mud, Blood, & Gold
3. Devil In Disguise
4. New American
5. The Bloody & Violent History
6. Don’t Make Me Do It
7. It’s a Road to Righteousness
8. Live Forever
9. Drop Dead Inn
10. Prisoners Song
11. Magnificent Rogue
12. One Way Ticket
13. Hellbound Train
14. Eddie the Butcher
15. Hear Us Out
16. When The Smoke Clears

Rating: 7 / 10
Tomorrow Never Comes is out June 2nd on Epitaph Records. Pre-order here.
Review By – Dave Mullins