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Green Day have been moving away from their much-lauded pop-punk roots ever since ‘American Idiot‘ placed them atop the genre’s throne sixteen years ago. They’ve steadily stayed within the mainstream rock-world, creating inoffensive rock songs for all of the last decade and a bit. A sound approach that now reaches its next logical step with the noisy, messy, loud garage-rock-revival style to that of ‘Father Of All Motherfuckers.’ (Or just ‘Father Of All…‘ if you’re not old enough to say big swears yet or have a major label breathing down the back of your necks.) Green Day’s 13th studio album sounds and feels like the kind of rock record that a fake band on a sanitized, Netflix original teenage drama would write and record. Which is fine if you’re talking about a T.V. show and a fictional band that doesn’t actually exist, but it’s a terrible context when it’s coming from one of rock and pop-punk’s most notable acts.
The ten songs that make up the cursed DNA strands of ‘Father Of All Motherfuckers‘ sound like they could be heard in a forgettable snippet from a car or iPod commercial circa 2005: whistling “woo-aoh” vocal harmonies, forced sing-alongs, guitars punching out jangly distorted three-chord progressions, hand-claps tied to the snare hits, and all. Any sense of grit or edge that this record has is surface-level only. Would an authentic garage rock act have their tours and videos sponsored by Harley Davidson or have GIFs made for their cringe-inducing rainbow unicorn mascot? It’s sadly impressive and impressively sad that the trio went from releasing the seminal ‘Dookie‘ to dropping an actual dookie.
When Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace once yelled “I was a teenage anarchist, looking for a revolution” on that particular 2010 belter from ‘White Crosses,’ it felt like a rally cry to any jaded adult who’s youthful rebellion and teenage angst fizzled out when scene’s died, politics became too convoluted, and the real world came calling. But when 47-year-old Billie Joe Amstrong sings “I was a teenage teenager, full of piss and vinegar. Living like a prisoner for haters” on ‘I Was A Teenage Teenager,’ it’s a horrible, sobering reminder that sometimes the past should stay dead and people should act their age. Outlets like The Guardian may hilariously declare this album to be “apolitical angst with aplomb,” yet there’s never been a more crucial time in American (and international) politics and affairs to be more outspoken, less apolitical, and to share one’s truth in their art. Green Day was seldom ever on par with other political-heavy punk rock bands, like say, Bad Religion, but this record is next level sappy, tired indifference. Covering Joan Jett’s take on glam-rock pedophile Gary Glitter’s ‘Do You Wanna Touch Me? (Oh Yeah)‘ also doesn’t help.
This album’s tone and direction are to convey youth, romance, and of being care-free; of gettin’ the girl, being cool, reckless, and rockin’ out. You can hear that in each of these ten songs that exude modern pop sheens, old rock’n’roll callbacks, and the honestly decent, falsetto vocal performances that litter this release. Then again, Billie Joe also said that this LP is about the “lifestyle of not giving a fuck.” Given the utterly piss-poor musical result before us, perhaps someone, literally anybody, either in the band or on their label/management team, should’ve cared in the slightest in order to avoid this thing.
There’s been some conspiratorial speculation online recently that this new Green Day record is bad on purpose. That it’s the band taking the full piss by squirting out a lame, forgettable record in order to finish off their label contract with Warner; that it’s them not taking it seriously, as per them recycling the ‘American Idiot’ art for this album’s ugly-ass front cover. (A timely reminder that you could be listening to one of Green Day’s biggest and best records as opposed to this latest insipid mess.) Personally, I don’t buy that “bad on purpose” take for a second. I think that that’s Green Day fans trying to justify how damn far their favourite rock band has fallen in recent times. Because ‘Father Of All Motherfuckers’ isn’t bad by design: it’s just fuckin’ bad. Period. Green Day and their management can pay for advertisements that express awful boomer-elitism, such as their controversial “NO FEATURES. NO SWEDISH SONGWRITERS. NO TRAP BEATS. 100% PURE UNCUT ROCK!” ad all they want, but that can’t justify the almost-irredeemable ‘Father Of All Motherfuckers.’ Or maybe, just maybe, Green Day has pulled off the first great ironic troll of the new decade?
Father Of All Motherfuckers
Fire, Ready, Aim
Meet Me On The Roof
I Was A Teenage Teenager
Stab You In The Heart
Junkies On A High
Take The Money and Crawl
‘Father Of All Motherfuckers’ is out now: