Revolution Radio

Green Day

Reprise, 2016

http://www.greenday.com

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/10/2016

Green Day is back.

The Uno, Dos and Tre! albums, as palate-cleansing as they were after the overblown concept album 21st Century Breakdown, showed cracks in the band’s façade. The music was pretty standard for the modern punk genre, not transcending it like Green Day has frequently done over the last 20 years. But the lyrics were quite disturbing (especially on Dos), and the albums just don’t hold up to repeated listens (quick: name one song from each album without looking). Billie Joe Armstrong entered rehab around the time the project was released, putting the band on hiatus for a few years.

With a clear head and renewed vigor, the trio has recorded their best album since American Idiot simply by going back to basics. Revolution Radio is a combination of the musicianship and lyrical concepts that fueled American Idiot with the fun garage punk rock of the band’s late ‘90s work. Moreover, this is not a concept album (despite the title), nor are there multi-part songs or characters. This is a hard rock band, writing hard rock songs with a punk edge, happy to do what they’ve always done and sounding refreshed by it. This doesn’t always make for a great album, but it makes for a fun, bracing one that fans will appreciate.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The disc crackles with energy, stomping drums, and fist-pumping anthems that will sound great live and come one after the other, at least in the front half. “Say Goodbye” is a curious choice for opener at first, seemingly a ballad of sorts, but then the guitars roar in and the rhythm section punches and it makes sense. The title song and “Bang Bang” are both full-throat rockers with a message and “Say Goodbye” takes some of the arena stomp of Imagine Dragons and shows that band how it’s done. Tre’s drumming is pivotal to the song, almost a lead instrument, crashing forward with righteous energy. It’s not a song the band could have recorded in their younger days.

After this opening quartet, things flag a bit with the slower “Outlaws,” but “Bouncing Off The Wall” is go-for-broke fun and “Still Breathing” is a pop-punk tune in the classic late ’90s vein with a serious strain of heart. Knowing Armstrong’s recent struggles, the tune resonates just as much as “Bang Bang” does with our recent gun culture and endless new stories about people shooting each other. Closing ballad “Ordinary World” is a simple acoustic ballad and a nice way to end the disc, if not a terribly memorable one.

The disc is blatant fun and almost never succumbs to excess or theatrics outside of “Forever Now,” which attempts to recapture the Idiot formula with an ambitious seven-minute epic, but the runtime and layers of noise only obscure what could have been a killer tune. Not that any other non-prog rock bands these days are trying to make this kind of music, mind you.

Revolution Radio doesn’t have many songs that will change the world, but many of them call attention to hot-button issues or display an endearing snottiness without which it couldn’t legally be called Green Day. And while it may be tempting to note that a few of the tracks sound like pop punk by numbers, it’s important to recall that these guys pretty much invented modern pop punk, so they sound like themselves. And all Green Day really wanted to do in 2016 was just rock out, like they always have, like they always will, without trappings or conceits or St. Jimmy or multi-part compositions. It’s a welcome return.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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