Album Review: Green Day – Revolution Radio


revolutionradioFirst of all, I’m trying really hard, but I can’t think of a more generic title for an album. Maybe “American Radio” or “Rock Music.” We’re talking about a band that named its break-though album after a synonym for “shit.” I feel like they can do much better.

It’s a shame, really, because the music inside this record is loads better than the title suggests. In a way, Revolution Radio is a triumph, because it succeeds in getting Green Day to finally act middle age. Billie Joe Armstrong sounds every second of his 44 years in album opener “Somewhere Now,” singing we all die in threes.” This functions as a reminder that the members of Green Day have officially entered the aggregate age where, if you heard that one of them died, you wouldn’t be too surprised. In addition, it calls attention to the age-old saying that “celebrities die in threes.”

Of course Green Day is one of the more famous and long-running trios in popular music. These themes of mortality, fragility, and the general sense that the most exciting part of your life is over permeate the entire record, and can sometimes threaten to drag it down. Luckily, they find enough edge to keep things afloat in tracks like first single “Bang Bang.” The song is a chilling first-person account of a uniquely American “lone shooter,” an archetype that is all too prevalent in today’s society. Though things remain thematically dour, Armstrong and his versatile rhythm section (Mike Dirnt and Tré Cool) still have a way with a hook after all these years. Peppy tracks like “Bouncing Off the Wall” and “Youngblood” provide some much-needed levity (at least musically-speaking).

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Nigh-on thirty years into their career, Green Day isn’t exactly dropping Dookie-level masterpieces, or even cohesive American Idiotesque concept records. For this fact they can be forgiven. Revolution Radio is a perfectly valid entry into the pop-punk canon by one of the genre’s eldest and most esteemed groups. Billie Joe Armstrong has blossomed into a top-notch lyricist, and has further developed his vocal instrument since the 90’s. Ultimately, however, like Armstrong’s narrator, I just can’t shake the feeling that the halcyon days have passed. Maybe that’s the point.

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