By Aaron Hartley–
The iconic pop punk trio has been in a bit of a musical rut for the past few years. Green Day’s 2004 smash hit comeback “American Idiot” left fans and critic as to what could possibly be their next step.
Their follow-up album, “21st Century Breakdown,” treaded much of the same ground. It was a decent listen, but it felt more forced and predictable than “American Idiot.”
The trilogy of albums they released in 2012, “Uno,” “Dos” and “Tres” didn’t sell well and were received with mixed opinion. This was probably due to the sheer amount of music that was dropped at one time (there’s probably one great album’s worth of material in the trilogy). The supporting tour’s cancelation due to Billie Joe Armstrong’s rehab admission also didn’t help album sales.
But it’s been years since those tumultuous days. It looks like the band has made it through their troubled times. “Revolution Radio” is another political album, but the difference between this one and past records is that it’s genuine.
“21st Century Breakdown” was a bit overwrought and the trilogy felt forced and hollow. “Revolution Radio” actually provides the sense that the band is doing just what they want, how they want. It results in easily their best record since “American Idiot” over a decade ago.
“Revolution Radio” abandons the sounds of grandiose scope of rock operas, and candy-coated pop in favor of a more straightforward rock record. It’s often loud, fast and catchy, with a rough mixing that more often works than hinders.
Songs like “Bang Bang” and the title track are engaging, virulent punk tracks, reminiscent of their classic ‘90s material. The band hasn’t lost its penchant for ballads either, with the opener “Somewhere Now” sounding like it could have been off of “American Idiot.”
The heartfelt “Still Breathing” treads new territory. Other tracks range from playfully catchy, like “Bouncing off the Walls” and “Youngblood,” to angrily dark like “Say Goodbye.” Sure, a lot of the lyrics can be pretty cheesy, but the music sounds good. It has an engaging sincerity to it.
The album feels like a cohesive greatest hits of sounds from throughout their career. It simultaneously treads a new ground while providing a relevant examination of modern violence.
Green Day has become the band it’s fun to hate, but I don’t think that’s warranted. The band has an impressive ability to bounce back, recoup losses and reestablish themselves.
I don’t expect “Revolutionary Radio” to match their previous heights. But I do think managing to create enjoyable and relevant music after such a long career is an accomplishment all its own.