Green Day’s Review - Won’t be found at Wal Mart

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May 16, 2009  

What do nikki mcKibbin, the 2010 olympic torch, jimmie wales, speed street, and this show have to do with each other? Nothing, enjoy the show!

Welcome to American Idiot Again: 21st Century Breakdown Edition
How does one approach a band that appears in 2009 to be starkly different than the edgy wit and hook writing of rock legend Billie Joe Armstrong? The similarities of sound and performance have evolved drastically from simple three chord renditions. What stifles the newest release is the overly repetitive, and thinly defined sturggle with authority.
In fact, assessing this album in comparison with an unrivaled catalogue of classics is as difficult as comprehending the format of 21st's track listing.

# Title Length
1. "Song of the Century" 0:58
Act I: Heroes and Cons
# Title Length
2. "21st Century Breakdown" 5:09
3. "Know Your Enemy" 3:11
4. "¡Viva la Gloria!" 3:31
5. "Before the Lobotomy" 4:37
6. "Christian's Inferno" 3:07
7. "Last Night on Earth" 3:57
Act II: Charlatans and Saints
# Title Length
8. "East Jesus Nowhere" 4:35
9. "Peacemaker" 3:24
10. "Last of the American Girls" 3:51
11. "Murder City" 2:54
12. "¿Viva la Gloria? (Little Girl)" 3:48
13. "Restless Heart Syndrome" 4:20
Act III: Horseshoes and Handgrenades
# Title Length
14. "Horseshoes and Handgrenades" 3:14
15. "The Static Age" 4:17
16. "21 Guns" 5:21
17. "American Eulogy" (A. "Mass Hysteria" / B. "Modern World") 4:26
18. "See the Light" 4:36

Initially, the single, "Know Your Enemy" is a let down. American Idiot, Green Day's 2004 release, was a tremendous undertaking, about thoroughly enjoyable before the mainstream radio played it to death. Still, it was a great revival of modern rock that has maintained up to this 2009 release.

In overall review, this album serves as great background music, but rarely rises above mediocrity for a band that has few accomplishments left unturned. I had great hopes for this album, and it has some nice moments, and is overall an enjoyable listen. Overuse of similar 2004 themes of conflagration, political underpinnings, and rebellion leaves me asking why the band has left the storytelling traditions, uplifiting angst, and selfless love songs with a punk beat, from 90's favorites like "When I Come Around", "Paper Lanterns", and "Scattered". The Green Day songs of today are often too centered on war themes, reaching today's teens, Christian themes, and image orienting around tight jeans and black clothing. The Green Day I long for was quietly aging and expanding melodically, without political agenda, performing the best live rock in the world, without trying too hard.

21st Century Breakdown is not a must have album, it lies on the bottom three of the band's all time album list, and does little to expand upon the band's outstanding resume. For a five year wait since the last release, I felt slightly disappointed. Drum fills are sounding similar to American Idiot, production of the vintage Green Day guitar has faded into the high-mids of every other band out there, and Mike Dirnt superstar bass sound is buried in a wall of sound on most occasions.

Still, the vocals are crisp, though processed, but the album IS listenable. If you don't expect a great Green Day album, this is a decent work, and should not be judged so harshly as I have here, as an eternally thankful fan that this Bay Area band continues to tour, and never neglects to play the hits. So, pick up the album not for its overwhelming quality, but in appreciation for band that keeps giving to its fans, and gets as many credits for "good and decent" albums as they want, and still are trying to push and create a new identity that includes so much more musical complexity than a three man power punk group that set things off from an energetic pen and the passion to change the world of rock music.

The highlight of the record is "Last Night on Earth", the rousing ballad with great musical backing, and a sample of what potential the band still carries for future albums. The question I ask is, how long does the band plan to market against guns, youth angst, and rebel yells down hallways in exchange for embracing the tremendous musical talent of the group, and aspiring to write their next great accomplishment, the best album in the world, only accomplishable through abandoning the themes that have roused through the last two albums.

And in breaking news on May 21st, Wal Mart refuses to carry Green Day's newest album, unless it is revised for content and language, which the band proudly refused to do, way to go big business!

(Specific song detailed review to come...)

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