Album Review: Green Day – Revolution Radio

By on Friday, 28th October 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Green Day Revolution Radio album coverSo here we are, confronted with Green Day’s twelfth studio album, if you separate out their trio of LPs released in 2012. If ‘Revolution Radio’ were released by a newer, less prominent band, then it would be a critically lauded success. It contains elements of quiet maturity, a relevance that strikes hot to the modern masses. While some mainstream-ready punk sounds carry the album, when put into context of Green Day’s career-spanning culturally relevant and attacking albums, it fails to match up to any of their work pre-2009.

Billie Joe Armstrong and co. have sidled into the revival of ’90s punk bands that is sweeping through the mid 2010s, and they have done so with the same angst and aggression that has served them so well over these decades. The reason ‘Revolution Radio’ doesn’t stand out from the crowd is that it’s a little too paint-by-numbers. It serves as a reminder of the greatness they once accomplished with albums such as 1994’s ‘Dookie’ and their magnum opus 2004’s ‘American Idiot’, yet fails to surpass them.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDhYb6gFq_Y[/youtube]

Starting off with ‘Somewhere Now’, they immediately strike relatability. Lyrics concerning the mundanity that life can bring forth, especially with opening line “I’m running late to somewhere now, I don’t want to be”, prove that even the rock stars experience life like the rest of us. Track two ‘Bang! Bang!’ brings us straight into the fame game, with the song taking aim at the ease at which celebrity is gained even by those who commit crimes. Thanks to the technology at our finger tips, we see our ability to reach millions of people instantly as an opportunity to break through to the spotlight, and Green Day have perfectly encapsulated the twisted ideology behind it all. It’s a raging track, crafted in a way that only Green Day can, with furiously fast guitars carried by perfectly paced drums.

Title track ‘Revolution Radio’ is where the interest mildly wanes. It doesn’t really capitalise on the momentum triggered by the prior two tracks. The lyricism captures the idea of revolution, but it’s painted upon a muddied musical canvas. The same sentiment stands for ‘Say Goodbye’: driven by a stomping beat and guitars, it feels more like a leftover ‘American Idiot’ cut rather than a step forward in any direction. Anotherweaker moment comes in the form of ‘Bouncing Off the Wall’. It’s the most similar to their previous efforts, particularly 2012’s trio of albums ‘Uno!’, ‘Dos!’ and ‘Tré!’, and adds nothing to the album’s weight or feel.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9stigDCiLg[/youtube]

It’s on ‘Outlaws’ that both the album and band both reach their peak contextually. Concerning the punk youth that started the journey that’s lead them to this point, it’s a slow, wistful track that delves deep, aiming for an emotional reaction. The words “first love / first forgiveness / we were delinquents / freaks of a faded memory” allows you to perfectly envision a young Green Day, not abiding by the suburban norms that have frequented a lot of their back catalogue (‘Jesus of Suburbia’, anyone?). It’s the album’s shining moment that shows the mindset of Green Day isn’t stuck in recreating the past, but placing a retrospective for new and old fans alike to understand them on a personal level.

‘Still Breathing’ decides to pick the album off its feet, sticking to the (un-admitted) evidently biographical viewpoint, it is barraging and features some of the perfect Green Day melodic chorus that we all know and love. Breaking away from the political or darker lyrical content, ‘Youngblood’ goes into classic pop-punk territory with love being its main focus, though not without the Green Day touch: “Are you broken / like I’m broken? / Are you restless? / She said “Fuck you, I’m from Oakland!” Musically, it’s similar to ‘She’s A Rebel’ from ‘American Idiot’, stomping its way through with loud and abrasive guitars that manage to melodically hook you while the drums chug it forward.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EYmSkM7a0E[/youtube]

Throwing back to his youthful years once more, Armstrong goes back to his high school time and the era in general. Striking politically once more during the chorus “looking for a cause / but all I got was camouflage”, it’s the musical aspect that most interestingly could belong on their breakout ‘Dookie’. A perfect agglomeration of everything that makes Green Day so, it’s another high point.

For those who were missing the rock opera approach that ‘American Idiot’ took, have no fear. It returns in the form of ‘Forever Now’, a nearly 7-minute conglomeration of three separate tracks, essentially an encapsulation of the rest of the album. With political retrospect, it even circles back to the opener ‘Somewhere Now’ in its third act; though the more surprising aspect is that it’s not the album closer. That’s saved for ‘Ordinary World’, an acoustic ballad. If it were saved as a bonus track, or even a fourth act for the prior ‘Forever Now’, it would work well and continuing the album’s flow. Instead, the song grinds proceedings to a halt, especially after the aforementioned grandeur.

As a whole, ‘Revolution Radio, isn’t a bad album. It’s everything we’ve come to expect of Green Day, but in a too easy to digest manner. There are no signs of progress or further evolution, but with a band of their age and pedigree, is that expecting too much now? When you’ve written an album so politically and culturally outstanding as the much mentioned ‘American Idiot’, an album that’s so mainstream that it’s been adapted as a musical and even greenlit for a HBO feature film, where do you go afterward? Perhaps this is Green Day’s way of stoking the fire just enough to stay relevant while their years of service continue to serve them so well.

7/10

‘Revolution Radio’, Green Day’s latest studio album, is out now on Reprise Records. Past coverage on the band on TGTF can be found through here.

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One Response

1:24 am
1st November 2016

I’m also finding Green Day’s new album perhaps a little underwhelming, though it’s a bit unfair to expect it to equal Dookie or American Idiot – those are classic albums!

I’d say it’s probably their best record since American Idiot though, I really like the title track and ‘Still Breathing’. Also ‘Forever Now’ and several others are pretty good as well. I am glad they’re still around releasing new music!

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