For Fans Of
Green Day have been a band longer than I’ve been on this planet. In that time they’ve managed to pump out more power chord driven riffs than there have been vapid contestants on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette respectively. Their new album, ‘Revolution Radio‘ is no different. After all, they have a signature sound and they have no desire to shake things up as countless fans will love them regardless. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? Nah, more like if it’s not unpopular, don’t change it.
Green Day’s latest record carries a strong pop influence to it and with each new album they release, they slowly lose the punk element of their sound. Now, ‘Revolution Radio’ has its moments, from the hooks that Billie Joe Armstrong has become so proficient at creating, the continuous drum fills that Tré Cool loves to smash out, the chunky distorted guitars, and so on. But in saying that, this is without a doubt Green Day doing their thing, and while they may play a few tracks off this release over the next year or so, a majority of these tracks won’t become setlist staples. And here’s why: they’re just one big hook. No rise, no fall, and it doesn’t get much simpler than this.
Take ‘Bang Bang‘, which will be thrashed on the radio for a few more weeks, with its easy consumption from the wider public who think that they love alternative music, and it will be played back to back with Adele and Usher. Sure, the bridge section does show off of a nice Mexican influence, and I liked the mix-up and change of pace but it’s sad that it wasn’t expanded further. Besides, if Armstrong truly wanted to destroy pop-punk, as he proclaims that it “doesn’t make sense”, then maybe, just maybe, he should stop writing punk music with these immensely catchy, pop hooks that litter songs like this!
Tracks like ‘Bouncing Off The Wall‘ are blatantly easy listening. This one, in particular, isn’t a song that will last the test of time, and its structure is one they’ve utilised so much of over the years that I’m sure they’ll use it until the band eventually goes belly up. For instance, having an almost identical riff for the verse and the chorus, with one played clean and one with distortion to keep us all up to speed that the chorus is here. “Real original formula”, I thought on my first play through. Yet, I kept coming back to this song. It reminds me of older tracks like ‘Holiday‘, but…different. It takes my mind back to when I was a little kid and thinking that this band was so heavy (ha!) that they made me want to literally bounce off the walls. But I’m an adult now and Green Day has barely matured at all it seems.
It took four tracks in to find a song that I actually enjoyed and that was ‘Outlaws‘. The track has a beautiful composition with a 70’s production style that carries a strong sense of nostalgia and the production is just so fitting. Armstrong said he was feeling nostalgic himself when he wrote the tune, saying that it was him “Thinking about when me and Mike would break into cars and steal tapes and lighters and shit like that”. The amount of emotion poured into this track is palpable and it really got to me. Which is great; music is meant to evoke emotions within you, not just to be ingested to and thrown away mere seconds later. If the song does nothing for you emotionally, you probably won’t come back to it and ‘Outlaws‘ delivers it’s emotion in such a beautiful way. The raw sound of the drums through the verse, the piano drowned in reverb and the filter placed on the vocals; it’s just wonderful. It draws you right in and then smacks you in the face with a loud and direct chorus. This is a terrific track, and it’s just such a shame that quality moments like this aren’t consistently found across the whole record.
If we skip ahead to ‘Troubled Times‘, I was instantly filled with conflicting emotions, but not the glorious aforementioned emotions that ‘Outlaws‘ created. It begins with a melody that is far too similar to The Beatles ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps‘. This actually angered me, and I hope it angers you too. This is something that any music lover remotely familiar with The Beatles is going to pick up on, and how the band and their engineer/producer didn’t notice or didn’t care is surprising, to say the least. It’s a good song, but is that because of whom wrote it first? The chorus is simple and exciting at the same time, but I can’t fully enjoy it as it’s a disappointing rip-off. Just because you’ve been a band for over thirty years now doesn’t give you a right to become bland, steal melodies and be seemingly proud of that. I’m sure that the punk rock community loves it when bands rip-off pop legends.
Would I buy this album? No, not unless I found it in a bargain bin, which I’m sure will happen by 2016’s end. Apart from a handful tracks that were at the very best good, ‘Revolution Radio’ is overall a letdown. Is that because expectations didn’t match reality? Maybe, but if this came out a decade ago, or even ten years from now, it would still be a letdown. Is it as good as say, ‘Kerplunk’, ‘American Idiot’, ‘Dookie’, or ’21st Century Breakdown’ were? fuck no! Will I be listening to this twenty years down the line like I do with ‘Dookie’? Probably not. That’s not to say I won’t be listening to alternative music; I just won’t be listening to average, mediocre alternative music like this.
1. Somewhere Now
2. Bang Bang
3. Revolution Radio
4. Say Goodbye
6. Bouncing Off the Wall
7. Still Breathing
9. Too Dumb To Die
10. Troubled Times
11. Forever Now
12. Ordinary World
‘Revolution Radio’ is out now.