Remember Green Day, the band responsible for your rebellious phase in middle school? Remember laying in your bed listening to “American Idiot” until you weren’t sure which was harder: your algebra homework or living with your parents? Maybe that was just me. But with their newest release, Revolution Radio, Green Day has moved beyond the juvenile, punchy lines consumed by teens throughout the years and produced an album relatable to the youth and professionals alike, all while flexing the Dookie punk prowess that brought them fame decades ago.
If anything, Revolution Radio is fun as hell. It’s fast, slow, punk and tender all at once. Lead single “Bang Bang” fully attests to this, as its riffs hit hard while lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong sings of the vulnerability and disillusionment that comes with being a rock star. “Bang, bang, give me fame / shoot me up to entertain / I am a semi-automatic lonely boy,” shouts Armstrong over the chorus, creating an image of isolation in the spotlight. Armstrong intertwines the political aspects of gun violence with his personal experiences as a celebrity. The album is explicit in this sense, as Armstrong, true to his nature, doesn’t hold back from expressing his feelings in contrast to the rough exterior of quick snares, fast riffs and metaphorical writing.
Also true to Green Day fashion is the inclusion of “Youngblood,” a punk love anthem ripe for car ride-screaming or leaning over a barricade at a show. “Are you stranded like I’m stranded? / Do you want to watch the world fall to pieces?” It’s as romantic as rock ‘n’ roll gets without taking itself too seriously, and it is sure to be highly revered alongside their other romantic classics like “She” and “Last of the American Girls.” On “Youngblood,” Green Day has proven that fun romanticism is far from dead in today’s music.
Yet, Green Day hasn’t totally abandoned their youthful charm. “Too Dumb To Die” provides the perfect light-hearted, reflexive song on teenage feelings. “I was a teenage atom bomb blowing up on the weekends,” drones Armstrong, reminiscing on “Teenage Rebellion.” Not only are the lyrics fuzzier, but so are the melodies with distorted chords and muffled bass lines. Through lyrics like, “I’m hanging on a dream that’s too dumb to die,” Armstrong gives tribute to less than likely teenage aspirations that create a comforting nostalgia that doesn’t suffocate the listener. It’s definitely a clichéd track in the punk world, but it’s also a solid and consumable piece of music.
On “Forever Now,” Green Day brings back the soul of punk rock that seemed to be lacking in their 2012 slump trilogy Uno!, Dos! and Tre! At nearly seven minutes, the song is a dynamic rollercoaster. “I wanna start a revolution / I wanna hear it on my radio,” Armstrong harmonizes with rest of the band during the song’s bridge. There’s a longing in this penultimate song that resonates throughout the album, connecting to the album’s opening track “Somewhere Now” with a desire for meaning to which anyone can relate. Green Day has once again pushed boundaries with their craftiness with song-writing. “If this is what you call the good life, I want a better way to die,” yearns Armstrong; this is Green Day getting out of their slump and finding the boost they needed to start over. They’re not afraid to shy away from the norm of short hard-hitters, while retaining the classic tone of their previous hits that has made them relatable and beloved for decades.
Green Day obviously took cues from their 2009 album 21st Century Breakdown for the newest album’s tone and style. It’s imperfectly coherent, which makes it an easy listen. Revolution Radio is certainly nothing revolutionary for Green Day’s overall sound, yet the album has brought a revival to what made punk rock so popular in the ’80s and ’90s. It’s political and personal, two themes that have been lacking in today’s most popular pop-punk music. They’ve avoided the clichés of past relationships and loyal friends and have brought a breath of fresh air back to the punk scene.
Green Day’s newest effort isn’t their absolute best, but it’s exactly what the world of mainstream punk needed in 2016. As Armstrong states himself, “I got a sentimental illness” for Green Day. Do yourself a favor: try to listen to this album and not fall in love with Green Day. Or better yet, fall in love with punk rock in general. There truly hasn’t been a better opportunity to start a revolution.