Descendents are easily one of the most accomplished punk bands to come out of the 80’s. If you’ve ever listened to punk, you’ve probably heard Descendents at some point. You probably had a Milo tattoo. There is a good chance you listen to “Suburban Home” from your suburban home and think you yourself “What has my life come to?” Well, read these album rankings while you ponder life a bit.
8. Enjoy (1986)
It would be low hanging fruit to say that I didn’t enjoy this album all too much, so I won’t say that, but I’ll still let you know that I was clever enough to come up with it, and probably the first person to do so. This album is a very weird one for the band, they take their sound into some territories they hadn’t gone before, and, maybe for the best, wouldn’t ever again. Bathroom humor is turned up to 11 here, and the band even makes what sounds like an attempt at a metal-esque song with “Days Are Blood,” which tends to feel a tiny bit repetitive over it’s nearly 8 minute run time, making it about 7 minutes longer than what Descendents fans are used to. There are some gems here, but there’s a reason it’s one of the least talked about Descendents albums.
Play it again: “Get The Time”
Skip it: “Orgofart,” unless you’re into that, you sick fuck.
7. All (1987)
Descendents try to be a bit experimental with their sound on this one, and it doesn’t always land. The best songs on “All” are the ones that stick to the tried and true Descendents formula. It’s not a bad thing to experiment, but sometimes it’s just best to stick with the formula that works. Because if you mess with what works, you end up like new Coke, or any Simpsons episode after season 12. Actually, both of those things are still pretty successful. I guess that shows how much I know. Feel free to use that against me when you tell me how bad this ranking is and how your opinion is so much better.
Play it again: “Coolidge,” “Clean Sheets”
Skip it: “Schizophrenia”
6. 9th & Walnut (2021)
If you’re not already into Descendents, this album probably won’t be the one to change that, but if you’re already into them, then it’s definitely worth the listen. It’s a collection of songs that were written before “Milo Goes To College,” before Milo was even in the band, recorded with the lineup we all know and love. It’s definitely interesting to hear where the band came from and get a sense of how they became what they are now. It’s sort of like the Star Wars prequels, minus the whining fanbase that likes to argue whether or not it’s any good.
Play it again: “Nightage”
Skip it: “It’s My Hair”
5. Cool To Be You (2004)
“Cool To Be You” packs a lot of the same style of lyrics about farts, being bullied in school, and never making it with your crush that you heard from Descendents in the ‘80s. The problem with that is that the band was about two decades older this time around. Listen, no one’s above a good fart joke, but a handful of these songs still sound like they were written by a bitter high school kid. However, it’s only a small minority of songs that fall victim to this, and if you can look past those few rough spots, the album is pretty good, even if it sounds a bit too polished at times. The album’s namesake “Cool to Be You” feels more like a grown up Milo taking a more mature look at the feelings of not fitting in that he wrote about in previous albums, “One More Day” is a heartfelt and emotional song about the passing of drummer Bill Stephenson’s father, and “Nothing with You” is just a really fun song, as are most of the other songs on this album.
Play it again: “‘Merican,” a song that every dude with an American flag on the back of their wide body pickup truck really needs to hear at least once.
Skip it: “Dog and Pony Show”
4. I Don’t Want To Grow Up (1985)
If “Cool To Be You’s” sense of humor showed us anything, it’s that the band really took this album’s title to heart. This album features Descendents at the peak of their immature humor (which we here at The Hard Times are so clearly above), and while it doesn’t always land, sometimes it does. And regardless, the songs themselves are really good. They have the raw sound you’d expect from an LA punk band in the ‘80s, and Milo still manages to pull off many sincere moments throughout the album in its occasional step into a more melodic territory.
Play it again: “Good Good Things,” “Silly Girl”
Skip it: “No FB,” “Pervert” (Don’t put these on your “Descendents for kids” playlist)
3. Hypercaffium Spazzinate (2016)
After a 12 year gap following “Cool To Be You,” the band came back with their 7th studio album, and they came back swinging. While the band continues to venture into a more sincere side of their sound with songs like “Without Love” and “Smile,” they also pack in plenty of energy with songs that are reminiscent of their older albums like “Feel This” and “Testosterone,” showing that they’re not getting older, it’s just you. You’re old. You probably saw the headline of this article and thought “The Descendents? I remember seeing them back in the ‘80s,” didn’t you? Let’s get you to bed grandpa.
Play it again: “Shameless Halo”
Skip it: All the songs are pretty solid honestly, just press play and enjoy (callback) this one.
2. Everything Sucks (1996)
Anyone who’s ever read a “top 10 punk facts you didn’t know” probably already knows that Milo took a break from Descendents to go do important science stuff. Well after 9 years, he came back, and much like on “Hypercaffium Spazzinate,” the band clearly wanted to make a statement with their comeback. And that they did. It keeps the Descendents tradition of balancing melody and energy and pulls it off extremely well. Give this one a spin and see why your cooler older cousin was always talking about this album.
Play it again: “Everything Sucks,” “Rotting Out”
Skip it: The little space between “Thank You” and the hidden track, “Grand Theme”, because “Grand Theme” is super fun to listen to, and my attention span just can’t take the wait.
1. Milo Goes To College (1982)
After clicking on this article, you probably went right to the end to make sure this is number one. It is, don’t worry, you can go back and start the article from the beginning now. This paragraph will still be here when you get back. This is considered their magnum opus for a reason. It never lacks energy, but it never feels too aggressive. It’s often credited as being the starting point for melodic hardcore, which is objectively the best punk genre, regardless of what your friend with a concerning interest for d-beat might insist. Aside from a few questionable lyrics that the band has now decided to leave out in live performances, the album doesn’t have any low moments. It’s an iconic punk album for a reason.
Play it again: “Catalina,” “Jean Is Dead,” “Suburban Home”… Actually, just keep the whole album on repeat.
Skip it: Don’t bother, the songs are so short that they’ll be over before you can hit the skip button.