Over the course of their career GREEN DAY have certainly racked up their share of albums packed with hits (Dookie, Insomniac, American Idiot) while also amassing a few misses here and there (most of Warning, 2012’s whole ¡Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tré! debacle…oy). But hey, that’s to be expected with any group that’s been putting out records for over 20 years, right? Sometimes they get it right, and other times they get it very, very, VERY wrong. The good news is that brand new album Revolution Radio (October 7, Reprise) sounds like the GREEN DAY we all fell in love with back in the 90’s (in my case Summer ’94). The bad news is that there are times this feels very much like a retread. But thankfully the good moments outnumber the bad.
“Somewhere Now” opens the disc not with a bang, but more of a whisper. But fear not, it picks up steam, with the whole band coming together and creating an anthem for today. First single “Bang Bang” got my attention right away because A) it deals with a mass shooter (something that is all-too common these days) and B) it just SOUNDS like the GREEN DAY of old. The title track has a punk rock edge, even if it is a bit polished, but the hook is downright infectious. “Say Goodbye” is without a doubt the most unique offering on the disc, which can be good or bad depending on your ear, while “Outlaw” takes an age-old ballad-type progression and mines it perfectly.
“Bouncing Off the Wall” and “Youngblood” are very much in that retread territory I spoke of earlier. Are they bad songs? No, but we’ve heard them before, and on more than one album, that’s for sure. Now let’s talk about “Still Breathing” shall we? This is where the album really hits its stride. It is a catchy and lyrically hard-hitting tune about several people at the end of their ropes. However, the upbeat melody and chorus serves as a reminder that this band itself is, in fact, still breathing, despite a mostly subpar output for the past seven years. There’s life in the old girl yet, and this was definitely my favorite track. “Too Dumb to Die” is very timely because it is a look at a society that has no real causes to fight for, yet puts up petitions on change.org at the drop of a hat.
“Troubled Times” is very much like a visit from an old friend, or that favorite pair of sweats you pull out in the fall, and “Forever Now” is this album’s lone stab at rock opera, clocking in at nearly seven minutes. It’s effective because they keep it simple and never let it get too bloated. Closing things out is acoustic number “Ordinary World”, which instead of painting a bleak picture, dares to offer hope with lines like, “Baby, I don’t have much. But what we have is more than enough.” Amen to that. When it’s all said and done Revolution Radio is the album GREEN DAY needed to make. And while they’re not all the way back to greatness just yet, this is definitely a big step in the right direction.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Still Breathing”, “Troubled Times”, “Outlaw”, “Revolution Radio”, “Bang Bang”, “Ordinary World”