Some genres of the musical variety age like a California Pinot Noir or a French Brie. Punk rock, on the other hand, creeps forward in age to the beat of an old cream.
Most of the great punk legends to riot not so quietly were either dead before they could develop their musicianship or, in some cases, left their gnarly roots behind them for stardom in rock and elsewhere.
The concept of punk is a very fresh-wound, heart beating 200 miles-per-hour, ready to stab the nearest amplifier with a wall of hysteria type of music. Not too many intellectual practices are implemented in a two minute ode to anarchy. When too much effort or musicianship is present in the genre, the raw energy fades away. This exact dilemma occurs while spinning Green Day’s new release, “Revolution Radio.”
Hailing from a corner store parking lot in Berkeley, the band Green Day rose to fan frenzy with an alternative punk sound for the youth of the 90s. After “Dookie” and three more successful records, the group produced a rock opera, “American Idiot,” which skyrocketed their success to the mainstream.
The record following was “21st Century Breakdown,” a critique on the new millennia and also a newly developed sound for the band. Wrongfully assuming the group was evolving, they went back to their roots with “Uno, Dos, Tre,” reverting to their early days of music.
The album in question, “Revolution Radio,” debuted this month, showing a meager attempt at combining their introspective rock side and their raw punk influences. The result was not as hoped, leaving the listener with a a glimpse of the past and a need for musical development.
The first single, “Bang Bang,” holds true to their punk-infused social commentary. Given the tone of the previous paragraphs, one would think that “Bang Bang” would be shot down in flames, but this critic is happy to say that the single itself retains some value.
The song begins with a quiet remembrance of breaking news about different shootings. Tre Cool, the drummer, knocks down the door to the house of punk with a steady upbeat tempo. The guitar fills the insulation surrounding the walls to make for a warm and cozy ear-bleed. Shaking to its core, the establishment in question burns down from the anarchic array of audio.
The song itself takes the perspective of the active shooter and the thoughts that may be rolling through his psyche. Social commentary like this is ideal for the times given the uptick in school shootings, executions and random acts of violence lately. The track ends with the fascinating phrase, “Daddy’s little psycho and Mommy’s little soldier.”
The next single is the title track. Alluding to a style they developed in “21st Century Breakdown,” the band tips its hat to the work of small-time saboteurs and disobedient deviants in “Revolution Radio.” Grooving heavy bass evokes a swarray of white-water rapids crashing into the kick-drum and ear-drum alike. Vocalist Billy Joel Armstrong on vocals rides the rapids on a wailing gibson guitar, guiding through the chaos that is new wave punk.
The song is sufficient in invoking the age-old tradition of head-banging bliss. Fusing together styles of their youthful and aged years, the three minute flow does not go unappreciated. What does go unappreciated is the wall of unnecessary radio stations when the dial turns.
The remaining B-tracks leave much to be desired. Many phrases feel lyrically repetitive while also forcing underdeveloped riffs and grooves into the spotlight. The singles of the album hold together as sufficient, but the remaining create a precedence of Green Day’s attempt to mix their cultivated sound of today with the ambiance of “Dookie” and “American Idiot.”
The two peas do not belong in the same pod; rather, the group needs to further explore the style changes happening subliminally overtime, while also keeping to their musical critique of current affairs. This revelation may annoy purist fans of the group, but many legends grow and reinvent to mature their sound, unlike the cultured dairy playing now.
The general consensus from this critic’s humble opinion is to enjoy the singles and wait for the next album to buy completely. As long as Green Day continues to develop their sound to compensate for maturing ears, they will remain a solid force.
The hope for the next project is a leap away from the glam punk they started with, and a dive into introspective hard rock while maintaining societal analysis. Green Day shot and missed the bullseye, but they still have many bullets to come.