Green Day’s fire is still alight, but while they aren’t exactly neutered, they do sound diluted.
Now in their 30th year, California punk-rock heroes Green Day have proven themselves to be more of an institution than merely just a band – a reputation cemented by their induction into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame last year. Alongside The Descendents and Blink-182, their early output (specifically the gloriously bratty and timeless Dookie) helped construct the foundations for which the American pop punk genre was built upon, and despite a lull in commercial success as the 21st century dawned, they managed to find relevance once again in 2004 with their beloved 7th album American Idiot.
It was undeniably their most politically-charged, ambitious and theatrical record, and showed us an older and more mature Green Day, tackling topics such as the Iraq war and the destructive reign of George W. Bush, all against the backdrop of a disenfranchised suburban lower-middle-class family life. American Idiot also introduced a new generation of fans to the trio and was a gateway into the world of alternative music for many young listeners, but also seemingly ran their pool of ideas dry, as all of their efforts since have sadly felt thinly-spread and formulaic.
It’s now been almost 5 years since the release of their last material (the cluttered and excessive Uno! Dos! Tre! ordeal), and the band have now returned once again with a new record; Revolution Radio, which despite its fairly unimaginative title and artwork, promises a refreshed and revitalised Green Day that should help us forgive (but maybe not totally forget) that previously mentioned trilogy.
‘Somewhere Now’ opens Revolution Radio with the gentle pluck of an acoustic guitar and the pensive voice of loveable punk-dad poster boy Billie Joe Armstrong, as the band aim for the thoughtful tone of ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’, before a sudden burst of crashing drums and charging riffs soon attempt to incite the fist-pumping power of hits like ‘Holiday’ and ‘Minority’. It’s likely to sound like a generic recycling of their 2004-era style to more sceptical listeners, but hardcore fans are sure to be found grinning from ear to ear as they hear their favourite band flex a muscle.
It’s followed by the album’s lead single ‘Bang Bang’, which doesn’t exactly break any new ground either, but is certainly the most infectiously raucous track to be unleashed by Green Day in recent memory. Mike Dirnt’s surging bass riff and Tre Cool’s seismic drums are consistently thrilling, and Armstrong’s trademark trailblazing yells and thrashy guitar-playing give it the joyously badass prowess that will make it a regular appearance in their setlists for years to come.
It’s followed by the equally enjoyable title track, as well as a number of other punchy moments in ‘Bouncing Off The Walls’ and ‘Too Dumb To Die’, which inject some energetic old-school blood into their modern DNA. Outside of these cuts though, Billie Joe and co. start to lose the gravity that was keeping attention on them, as ‘Outlaws’, ‘Still Breathing’ and ‘Troubled Times’ lack the anti-hero passion or riot-sparking fun that made the other tracks so compelling in the first place. Elsewhere, ‘Youngblood’ and ‘Say Goodbye’ simply feel like filler, and acoustic closer ‘Ordinary World’ is totally devoid of the same heart-tugging emotion that was evoked on the classic ‘Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)’.
Considering the amount of heinous acts being committed in our society and the fact that little has improved since American Idiot, it’s surprising not to hear Green Day sounding more pissed off and fierce, both lyrically and stylistically. Their fire is still alight, and while they aren’t exactly neutered, they do sound diluted.
So it seems that Revolution Radio is unlikely to ignite any liberating acts or inspire a global wake-up call in the way its title might suggest, but it is more enjoyable than anything else they’ve released in the past decade. It succeeds in giving fans of their mid-to-late 2000s sound plenty to enjoy, but will leave those who worship Dookie and Insomniac rolling their eyes. There are enough solid, catchy moments to keep them as popular and respected as fellow summer fest headliners like the Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers, but starts to show the band getting tiresome and start to sound like they’re going through the motions and lean away from anything too anarchic.
I’m sure Green Day still have many, many years left in them, and hopefully we’ll see a late-career re-blossoming, but for now it seems they’re going to go at a slightly gentler pace and focus on creating catchy, punk-flavoured rock songs that will provide themselves and the crowds they perform to with a sense of unity against whatever is getting them down. (5/10) (Woody Delaney)
Listen to Revolution Radio here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!
Tags: album, Billie Joe Armstrong, Green Day, Mike Dirnt, Reprise, review, Revolution Radio, Tre Cool, Woody Delaney
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