Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published February 8th 2020
The new Green Day album is great
(Please note: I will be using the abbreviated form of the title in deference to younger readers.)
Green Day are an interesting band. They started life as part of the late-80s American punk revival scene. Their album Dookie (1994) was where I and most Australians first came across them. I was in my early twenties and songs like 'Basket Case' were the sort of rock that stood up to the anodyne pop and growing rap and modern r&b movements starting to dominate the airwaves. Then in 2004, they released American Idiot, a concept album, a protest album, filled with awesome songs, and one of the best albums (if not the very best) of that year. Unfortunately, the releases since then have not done a lot for me. I thought maybe I'd grown past Green Day, or maybe I was comparing everything they subsequently did too much with American Idiot.
Let's look at their release, then: Father Of All… by Green Day (2020).
Ten tracks, half an hour of music. This is an album that certainly does not overstay its welcome! I really enjoy this album, and if it wasn't for Gary Moore I would have written this sooner and listened to it a lot more. This album is not the punk posturing I was expecting; in fact, the musical themes are almost retro, throwbacks to musical styles of the past. That makes it probably more accessible to a casual listener than some of their previous work.
One more thing before I get to the songs – I was frankly amazed that none of the songs seems to reference Donald Trump, considering that man (term used advisedly) is exactly the sort of person Green Day would rail against. And I think that actually helps the album's accessibility. And, really, who wants to talk about that… person?
'Father Of All…'. With its falsetto stylings, the hand-claps and grinding staccato guitar, this could have been a Queens of the Stone Age song. That is a good thing, by the way. The sound is not one I would immediately associate with Green Day, but damn if it doesn't work well! And it is a really good way to start the album.
'Fire, Ready, Aim'. This follows seamlessly on from the previous track; at less than two minutes in length, it almost feels like a coda to 'Father Of All…'. That's not a bad thing, by the way.
'Oh Yeah!'. Taking its chorus marker from Joan Jett's version of Gary Glitter's 'Do You Wanna Touch?', this song is so damn addictive. The song is about how too many people in this day and age live in an alternate reality world of social media, the cheery chorus juxtaposed against the hard and gritty verses. There is a reason why it was released as a single – it is really, really good.
'Meet Me On The Roof'. This is slightly poppier, a song about a guy who's hoping a girl he really likes won't think he's a loser and agree to meet him on the titular roof. Being different to what it followed, this track is another really good one.
'I Was A Teenage Teenager'. This is a song that almost parodies the sort of teenage angst songs that Green Day themselves released back in the day. I'm not sure it quite works as that, but this has an almost 60s sound to it and the music is really good. I am loving this album!
'Stab You In The Heart'. This has the feel of a late-50s, mid-60s rocker – including audience cheering – and it is a great track. The stylistic elements are such a throwback that I couldn't help but smile all the way through it, even if the lyrics – about a guy upset at his partner's infidelity – are more 90s than 60s. Great track.
'Sugar Youth'. A guy at a party wants to find a hook-up. It is fast – less than 2 minutes long – as if the singer was on a sugar rush. The track did not do a great deal for me, I'm afraid.
'Junkies On A High'. This is more like the Green Day people would expect, which makes it an interesting track in the sonic landscape of the album as a whole. The singer is indulging in whatever drugs or addictions he has to avoid dealing with the world crumbling around him. Not too bad, actually.
'Take The Money And Crawl'. This has glam rock written all over it. The song is about people who will basically do anything for money. The music is the thing here, though, with fuzztone guitar and an interesting rhythm.
'Graffitia'. We finish with a song that is the most overt protest song on the album – about Rust Belt towns closing and the police killing people of African descent in the US. But the depressing lyrics are off-set by a music that is probably the best on the album. The singing, the music, it all has a very 1970s feel about it, and it is a really good track that just sits there like an ear-worm.
This whole album has a distinctly glam rock feel about it, mainly because of the use of handclaps on all the tracks (think Gary Glitter, T-Rex styled), but done at the speed of a late 70s' punk record. It is actually a fun album. I came away from it smiling, and I could imagine nearly all of these tracks live. In fact, I can imagine them playing this whole album, track after track, in this order, as a suite live in concert, and then having plenty of time to do a greatest hits set afterwards. I'd go.