Album review: Green Day leaves boulevard of broken dreams in wake of underwhelming 13th album
(Courtesy of Reprise Records)
“Father of All...”
Feb. 7, 2020 6:22 p.m.
Green Day’s groovy energy is evident from the first guitar note – but its new album quickly spirals into an unfortunate copy of its previous work.
The band’s 13th studio record, “Father of All…,” released Friday, and with 10 short tracks, it leaves listeners missing the carefully executed iconic past tracks from “Dookie” and “American Idiot.” Lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong surprisingly avoided political commentary with his lyrics this time around, instead highlighting simply living life – but the songs’ subject matters make the 47-year-old singer seem stuck in high school.
The opening track, “Father of All…,” sets a fittingly angsty tone for the fast-paced 26-minute album, and the following track, “Fire, Ready, Aim,” only solidifies that attitude. The latter plays like a brief continuation of its predecessor and is easily forgettable as the shortest track on the album. With an underwhelming start, grunge instrumentals thankfully transition into the third track, “Oh Yeah!” with the rhythmic fist-pumping and headbanging energy that Green Day fans live for. The heavy drums and basic lyrics of the post-chorus set the track apart as one of the more danceable and chantable songs on the record, accomplishing the united feel the band intended for the entire album.
The evident stadium hit is followed by the modern and playful “Meet Me on the Roof,” which immediately draws in listeners with edgy, high-pitched piano keys. The band sticks to its original lively rock genre and relatable lyrics to highlight the track as one of the most memorable on the album, satisfying listeners who wish for a sound more reminiscent of the band’s old punk style.
But it couldn’t sustain its enticing grunge sound as the next three tracks boast annoyingly catchy instrumentals alongside embarrassingly cringy lyrical content. “I Was a Teenage Teenager” presents repetitive and uninteresting lyrics that celebrate the good old days. But the bitter nature of this track makes it seem as though Armstrong is lost in his past. The song comes off as immature – and definitely not warranting the longest time slot on the album – as it encourages the idea that “school is just for suckers.”
Evolving into a slightly out-of-place beachy tone, the sixth track, “Stab You in the Heart,” resembles the melody of The Beatles’s “Hippy Hippy Shake.” But the reminiscence of an old classic is not enough to save the song, as Armstrong’s teenage-esque angst is at an all-time high. As the singer laments, “for heaven’s sake, you’re just a fake,” it leaves listeners questioning if Green Day should have retired, as its lyrics are rooted in the past and the album’s attempts to modernize its sound often backfire.
The album is saved by “Junkies on a High,” which attempts to bring a beautifully modern flare to an old, psychedelic rock sound. The high piano notes, deep electric guitar and drums come together perfectly to simultaneously reflect and reinvent its angsty yet groovy vibe that makes Green Day so widely adored. With captivating lyrics and riffs that obligate listeners to close their eyes and sway their heads, this track is a standout next to other lackluster nostalgic try-hards.
However, this quick moment of pride and relief is taken away with “Take the Money and Crawl,” which is the audio equivalent of a catfish – with the first 20 seconds tricking listeners into believing it will be a success. The blues guitar and scratchy vinyl introduction set the tone for a moody, yet lovely, song, but is rudely interrupted with loud guitar and never returned to again. The robotic mixing in the final chorus makes listeners thankful the track is as short as it truly is, as the song says, “a nervous wreck, enough to make you sick.”
Green Day makes one last attempt at a new sound with the closing track, “Graffitia,” which once again attempts to modernize the band’s grunge rock sound with quiet breathing mixed in with the drums. It also has the most obvious political undertone with references to police brutality. Armstrong questions both the impact of innocent lives lost and his role as an artist in the matter as he sings, “Are we the last forgotten?” The contemporary yet classic tone of the song makes it compelling and represents the high points of the entire album.
Overall, Green Day’s “Father of All…” arguably jumps the shark with only a few notable tracks that save its aging reputation.