Green Day

Revolution Radio

Written by: PP on 30/11/2016 23:58:58

Looking back at the twelve years since their conceptual punk pop rock opera "American idiot", it's clear that Green Day's career has been on a downward trajectory for quite some time now. We've reached a point where a new album by them no longer generates the kind of buzz it would have done a decade ago, largely thanks to the catastrophic triple album fiasco of "¡Uno!", "¡Dos!", "¡Tré!" four years ago. Given that context, their 12th album "Revolution Radio" is much better, however, it ultimately still suffers from the corporate career rock band syndrome. The vast majority of the songs are soulless and driven by radio-friendly pop melodies, which is enough to propel the band back into mainstream attention but is a far cry from the crafty songwriting talent the band last displayed on "Nimrod" almost twenty years ago. And no, that's not a thinly veiled jaded statement of "the old stuff was just so much better" , those are just the facts.

Opening track "Somewhere Now" with its quiet, acoustic opening that slowly crescendos to a dramatic soundscape is symptomatic of the problem at large. With a million dollar production and songwriter-assisted, needless sonic expansion of the material, any vitality and character are sucked out of the system, leaving behind autopilot style pop rock songwriting that's inspiring to pretty much no-one. Big arena rock songs like "Say Goodbye" or the nothing saying ballads like "Outlaws" are equally good examples of the ambitious, stadium-sized songwriting that will keep their career afloat, but who are they really kidding here? In that sense, "Youngblood" might be the perfect example of the steadfast sufficient-with-lackluster-material attitude Green Day has been portraying for as long as I can remember.

Are there exceptions to the rule? Sure. "Bang Bang" is probably the most punk rock track on the record, an aggressive high-tempo onslaught that carries the spirited energy and classic 90s pop punk flavor that the band became initially famous for back in 1994. It's catchy without the unnecessary polish nor the artificial inflation of the sound as mentioned before. Basically, it is an exemplary exhibit of how all Green Day songs should sound like, save for a return to their 90s sound altogether that has been permanently off the table ever since 2000's "Warning". The upbeat and clean three-chord riffs of the title track likewise leave a positive impression, helped again by the high-octane tempo and absence of unnecessary dramatics and production trickery. "Bouncing Off The Wall" might not be as riddled with punk undertones, but its straight up alternative rock expression works just fine. "Too Dumb To Die" is also good - but it reeks of Alkaline Trip rip off melody-wise. Compare it to their classic "We've Had Enough" and the resemblance is undeniable. Having been accused of stealing material already once before, I can't believe they aren't more careful with obvious similarities.

Despite its highlights, "Revolution Radio" isn't a particularly memorable album. It's a typical example of a career extending album that, thanks to mesmerizingly good production values, sounds good on the surface but lacks longevity. The sheer amount of anonymous balladesque songs that are mammoth-sized sound wise but don't exactly appeal to music enthusiasts is far too high. It's easy to get suckered into songs like "Forever Now" and the others mentioned in this review and disagree with me, but the truth is that only about 50% of the record is something you'd consider listening to in two year's time from now. Not a bad record per se, but not an exciting one either.

Download: Revolution Radio, Bang Bang, Too Dumb To Die, Bouncing Off The Wall
For the fans of: Blink 182, Good Charlotte, Simple Plan
Listen: Facebook

Release date 07.10.2016
Reprise

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