"In a nutshell: Bad Religion rock, and they rock HARD. And Stranger than Fiction, despite being their "sellout" album (their first on a major label), which soured many long-term fans (as such moves inevitably do), is surely their most balanced, most accomplished, all-around best effort.A friend of mine described Bad Religion as "punk with a thesaurus." And that's accurate, to a certain extent: how many other punk bands have a vocabularly which includes "sallow," "dichotomy," and "sagacious," or lyrical nuggets like "languid wills and torpid minds" or "poignant morose wonder"?Nonetheless, this is by no means dispassionate intellectualism. Bad Religion may have a penchant for five dollar words, but there is powerful emotion behind them. Anger, yes, of course, is dominant: there aren't many tranquil punks. But, as Bad Religion chronicle and judge the follies of mankind, they convey a wide range of feeling: pity, sympathy, scorn, remorse, and equal parts hope and resignation, all backed with dark and ironic humor.Sadly, this was Brett Gurewitz's last album with the band as a full-time member. The best songs here are his work: the title track (If I could fly/High above the world/Would I see a bunch of living dots/Spell the word "Stupidity"?), "Incomplete," "Better Off Dead," "Infected," "Hooray for Me...," "21st Century (Digital Boy)" -- all Gurewitz compositions, all insightful, funny, blistering, without drifting into joyless polemic as Greg Graffin has been known to do.Final advice: crank up the volume, and play frequently."
One of the best by BR, but not THE best
J. Harris | New York, NY | 04/20/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This was the very first Bad Religion album I had ever heard, just as I was starting to get into punk in 7th grade. Years later, I am a huge Bad Religion fan, and if it wasnt for this album, that would not be the case. That being said however, let me make it clear that this is not their best album. Its not even in the top 3. Dont get me wrong, it is a great cd, but in comparison to their earlier recordings on Epitaph, well, it just doesnt compare. Lyrically however, Bad Religion remain on top of their game, despite what some other reviewers on this website say. You CANNOT look at this cd, or any other Bad Religion cd for that matter solely on the basis of music, or you will be missing half of the total package. The strong beliefs and sincerity of the lyrics have influenced me far more than the music has, and I can easily say that I have forgotten about other cds that have sounded like this musically, but just dont compare from a lyrical and intellectual standpoint. If you are a avid Bad Religion fan looking for another album to wet your appetite, then I strongly suggest this record. If you are a new fan looking to purchase your first BR album, then I would have to recommend either Suffer, No Control, or Against the Grain. A great cd none the less, and the one that started my affliction with Bad Religion."
Christian Jorgensen | Denmark | 12/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bad Religion leaving Epitaph for Atlantic?!?!? Selling out? New corporate style? Luckily not so! Bad Religion keeps their style and their attitude intact on this album. The fact remain though that the sound DOES change, it seems more "advanced" and produced than earlier, but the messages does not seem to have been flawed by the change of label(though the reasons for doing so elude me). I read a review where a mr. Brian Seiler claimed that punk rock was getting stupid, and Bad Religion represented this. I can agree to some extent in the first claim, although the second claim I find iresponsible. How can anyone find the lyrics to songs like Television, Slumber or The Handshake dumb?!?! "This album is not meant to be enjoyed on a philosophical level" and "If you read the lyrics to the songs, you'll get the standard flow of I-don't-want-to-grow-up anti-establishment rhetoric...". Does this mean that if something, be that a text or an idea is written so people can actualy understand it, that it is "un-philosophical" or unworthy? What exactly I am to put in to that I am not sure of.
Bottomline is that Bad Religion still offer meaningful and intelligent texts, without compromising."
Growing Old Gracefully
Christian Jorgensen | 01/06/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To those that slag all post-Against The Grain BR albums, I say . . ARE YE DAFT??? This is probably firmly in second place on my list, behind the aforementioned ATG. *GASP* go all the "fans" who rail against the newer stuff . .Why? Well, why not? This album has two things going for it. The first is a staple of this band, and that is a slew of fast songs that feature an abundance of that quality often neglected in punk -- melody! "Leave Mine to Me," "Better off Dead," and "Stranger Than Fiction" offer instantly memorable hooks that would work in pretty much any style of music. The harmonies in "Better off Dead" rival anything these guys have done. The second endearing quality is likely a shocker for anyone used to hearing the same jackrabbit tempos and punk song structures from Bad Religion. Yes, they actually shake things up a bit by throwing a (kinda) ballad into the mix, as well as a (kinda) folk song. The two are "Infected," and "Slumber," and they really add some spice to what is otherwise just another solid BR album. I've read that BR supposedly added diversity to previous albums with touches of "metal," "hard rock," or "psychadelica," but the nuances were too subtle for my feeble mind. I always thought metal was hard rock. Go figger. This is the first album on which Greg, Brett and company do anything I would really consider genre-shifting in the least. And I likes it! It's not experimental punk on par with, say, "Zen Arcade," but c'mon! This is Bad Religion we're yammering about!So, howl if you must that the boys have lost their youthful edge, but I call it maturity. The ruckus of "Incomplete" was all I needed to hear to be sure that they were still a punk band. What followed proved that a gift for melody doesn't go away once you hit 30."