Warning

Green Day

Reprise Records, 2000

http://www.greenday.com

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/26/2000

It's a shame when young punks grow up.

Just six years ago, it seems like the music world was turned on its ear thanks to three snot-nosed kids from California who played under the name of Green Day. With tracks like "Basket Case" and "Welcome To Paradise," Billie Joe Armstrong and company made it fashionable to play punk rock again, and even more fashionable to like it. Their mud-flinging set at Woodstock '94 (the one without the rioting and fires) secured their place in history.

But something's been happening to the band over the years. It started with their hit "Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)" off their Nimrod album -- Armstrong and crew began to start looking inwards instead of expressing their angst outwards. Armstrong began to trade his beat-to-hell Stratocaster for an acoustic guitar. And, the three young punks -- gasp! -- grew up.

So maybe I shouldn't be surprised that Warningmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 , Green Day's sixth album (and fourth on the majors), is hardly the slam-fest that earlier works like Dookie were. Yet I can't help missing the pure flow of adrenalin that their music once was. Armstrong and crew certainly make some wonderful music here, but stylistically, it fits them like an off-the-rack suit.

Oh, there's still some pent-up rage in those guys, even though they're all now within sniffing range of the big three-oh. "Minority" captures this, almost to the point of sounding like a souped-up protest song. It's kind of an interesting picture, and is one track I find myself going back to often.

And there's still quite a bit of social commentary left in these guys; the title track is a skewed look at life in general, as well as all the little warnings we see each day that could wind up becoming one big roadblock to us. This is an acoustic-based song, and admittedly it took some time for me to get into this one. But the chorus is simply infectious, and it won't be long before you find yourself hanging around the water cooler singing this one.

That all said, Warning is an uneven balance between unplugged experimentation and throw-the-switch energy. On one hand, you have pure musical magic on songs like "Castaway," "Church On Sunday" and "Jackass" - even the soft, moody "Macy's Day Parade" is charming in its own unique way. But Armstrong and the band seem to want to try new roads musically, and they're not quite sure how to handle the terrain. A perfect example of this is "Misery," a gypsy-like track that is extremely hard to listen to -- not because of its lyrical content, but because the instrumentation is rough. "Blood, Sex And Booze" doesn't quite feel comfortable in its musical skin, either; this is a song waiting to bust out in a barrage of power chords, but Armstrong never gives it the chance.

The majority of Warning is best described as a "with-the-winds" album. On a good day, tracks like "Fashion Victim" and "Waiting" can be appreciated; on a bad day, they fall flat. Warning, if anything, is guilty of being inconsistent, leaving songs like these floating in the breeze.

Maybe this is the kind of album you need to listen to about 20 times to really break it in. But straight out of the box, Warning is two parts pain to one part pleasure. If this is what happens to punk rockers when they get older, then bands like Blink 182 should study this album and know what to avoid when they hit this plateau.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Reprise Records, and is used for informational purposes only.