Green Day

21st Century Breakdown

Written by: PP on 26/05/2009 19:11:49

Well I'll be damned. Despite falling into the trap of 'evolving' away from punk rock into writing (mostly) boring ballads on "American Idiot", Green Day prove on their new album that they are still a punk rock band. Five years in the making, every aspect of their sound has been developed and improved, which manifests itself in songs that are much easier to sing along than those on "Idiot", "21st century breakdown" is basically like "American Idiot" only without the useless bullshit like "Wake Me Up When September Ends". It's fantastic to see Green Day return to their much loved three chord pop punk of 90s while still keeping much of the grandeur classic rock sound they've been exploring for the majority of this decade.

The title track starts with medium-pace riffing typical to some of the songs from "American Idiot" for the first two minutes, but boy does the song put a smile on my face for the final three. Much like how the title track opened "American Idiot", this one's a high-energy punk rocker designed to remind us that Green Day are still a punk rock band despite their mainstream image. Lead single "Know Your Enemy" then follows, which many have criticized as being repetitive, but that doesn't feel right because aren't all best Green Day songs like that? I for one find this song awesome, and can't help but sing along every time I hear it. Then we've got some classic whooah-whooah moments on "Christian's Inferno", it contains simple riffing and it may be a cheap way of ensuring that the song is catchy, but it works so damn well that I just don't care about the elitist opinion here. More similar three-chord punk rock godhood can be found on "Viva La Gloria" and "The Static Age", plus then we've got the real high-energy tracks "American Eulogy" and "Murder City" that should be right up the alley for fans of Green Day's older material.

There are only two negative sides to this album. Firstly, the lyrical theme, the concept, and the story are all pretty nonsensical. It's impossible to follow through the story from track 1 to 18 (impressive number of tracks by the way). But hey when the songs are this catchy, does that really matter? Not for me at least. Besides, the storyline is drenched in metaphor so I'm sure that enough listens will open up the story: it follows a young couple named Christian and Gloria through life in the United States following the presidency of George W. Bush, as they deal with the mess of the Bush years. Secondly, many awesome punk rockers start with a needless piano introduction, which feels little more than artificial inflation in order to make the songs sound epic, perhaps for the reason of not scaring American Idiot fans away? This would be pretty close to a perfect album had it just been about the riffs and the high-octane pace throughout. Why start so many songs slowly only to floor the pedal only 30-60 seconds later? Removing the piano interludes and balladic introductions would greatly benefit this already superb album. Take "Before The Lobotomy", for instance, which has a minute and a half's worth of boring acoustic guitars before it develops into a "Jesus Of Suburbia" type of song (one of the few great tracks from "American Idiot"). There are so many examples on the record where a simple removal of unnecessary grandeur would make for a much better song.

Lastly I'd like to thank the band for not writing an album's worth of "Wake Me Up When September Ends"/"Boulevard Of Broken Dreams" type of songs, words cannot describe how much the undersigned and this magazine hates those ballads...they just aren't Green Day at all. Piano-infested "Last Night On Earth", "Restless Heart Syndrome", and "21 Guns" come frighteningly close to being the gay ballads of the album (though not as annoying as the two aforementioned), but luckily we've got 15 other tracks on the record so they can easily be skipped and ignored. Lets just hope none of them will become a single though, because it'd suck if the album was remembered from tracks like these instead of the awesome fast paced punk rockers like "Murder City" or "American Eulogy" which prove why Green Day is still relevant in the punk scene. My subjective opinion on the album? This is the first punk rock album by Green Day since 1997's "Nimrod", and the record that should have followed instead of the god-awful "Warning".

9

Download: Murder City, American Eulogy, 21st Century Breakdown
For the fans of: Billy Talent, Blink 182, The Offspring, +44, Bad Religion
Listen: Myspace

Release date 15.05.2009
Reprise Records

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