I get it. A lot of people didn’t like Green Day’s prior work – the ¡Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tré! trilogy – and I can see where a lot of people were coming from. Stretching their talents out to create three separate albums probably wasn’t the best of ideas, as it led to quite a few more “meh” tracks than fans were used to.
But for a fan like myself of the punk rock band, I still enjoyed myself listening to the trio of albums. Sure, they’re not the band’s best, but I was engaged by the majority of music. Now that four years have passed, Green Day has finally released their latest album Revolution Radio. Combining the best elements from their previous tracks, and their own works outside the band itself, this latest album represents a refreshing call back for fans to love, while also marking a step forward in the band’s evolution of their niche.
Green Day has always been good at telling stories through their music. It’s hard to argue, really, when you consider their album American Idiot was a punk rock opera. Weeks leading up to the disc’s release, listeners got a taste of what to expect from the album in the form of a few early released singles. “Bang Bang” was the first to be broadcast to the world, and what rang out was an exuberant punk rock anthem on American gun violence and the media’s obsession with killers. Prior to that, “Somewhere Now” introduces the album with a mix of high energy chords and softer lyrics about growing older in the so-called “wild life” of our existence. The second single released follows immediately after, the title track “Revolution Radio,” and manages to be a great rock anthem laced with political statements against censorship.
“Say Goodbye,” “Outlaws,” and “Still Breathing” serve a bit of a different purpose, however, compared to the previous songs that fill you with a sense of rush and energy. Rather, these three are more humble, slower songs that still ring loud and proud with their variety of perspective lyrics. “Say Goodbye” marks itself as a commentary on the state of the world as a whole, with violence apparently rampant and the sick failing to get the proper help they need. “Outlaws,” on the other hand, is like a song about looking back towards one’s past. In this case, a pair of former rebellious teens who have since grown up. “Still Breathing” will hit a sweet spot for those in need of a lift in spirit, a nicely warm-hearted reminder that “hey, even through the worst, you’re still here and breathing.”
As far as “Bouncing Off the Wall” goes, anyone familiar with Green Day’s side project, The Foxboro Hot Tubs, will definitely notice the project’s garage rock style as the inspiration. Bolstered by its bounce in rhythm, and the kind of song that just makes you want to roll the windows down and blast the song on high while driving through the sunshine, fans of the indie rock style will easily want to get up and dance to it until their legs hurt. Following immediately, “Too Dumb to Die” and “Troubled Times,” are good additions that contribute to the record’s creativity by switching up the style in music, all while never abandoning the heart and charm of what makes Green Day so great to begin with. After all, it’s hard not to recall that sense of confusion in our younger years with lyrics like “Looking for a cause, well all I got was Santa Claus.”
“Youngblood” is a surprisingly sincere tribute to the relationship between Billie Joe Armstrong and his wife Adrienne. You just have listen to the lyrics past the bombastic chords that are catchy beyond belief. It should hit a sweet spot for casual listeners because of the infectious rhythm, while die-hard fans will easily pick up on a bit of the track “She’s a Rebel” from Green Day’s American Idiot album.
“Forever Now” is a nice continuation the band’s earlier songs like “Jesus of Suburbia” and “21st Century Breakdown” from previous albums, switching the song up with three different styles, all backed by their signature rebellious lyrics. And while the record feels like its story ends with the final notes of “Forever Now,” “Ordinary World” is nevertheless an excellent bonus to finish off with, serving as a bit of an epilogue to the stories of love and betrayal with a final note about how this is all just a part of our world. The acoustics and calm voice of Armstrong exemplify how well rounded and varied the album has been.
I don’t remember the last time an album has emotionally and physically exhausted me this much. Perhaps it’s the burning Green Day fan in me, but Revolution Radio just burns so bright as to why this trio of punk rock artists have remained relevant. It’s because they’re so excellent at what they do. And this album is not just for die hards like me, but there’s something here for everyone. Green Day fanatics, newcomers to the genre, the casual listener, you’re bound to find at least one or two songs that you’ll want to play till your friends and family are sick of hearing it. Trust me, I would know, I used to do that on a regular basis. Arguably, this is one of Green Day’s finest works to date.
I can not recommend this album enough.