GREEN DAY’S REVOLUTION RADIO
Four years after the release of a trilogy of “directionless” albums (lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong even said it himself), Green Day is back with their new album, “Revolution Radio”. After being recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the trio has gone back to the formula that made both “American Idiot” and “21st Century Breakdown” successful albums, with some favorable results; when the album doesn’t lose its focus. What we wind up getting is an album full of things to say about the challenges the world faces everyday, and what we might be able to do to fix them.
Lyrically, Green Day sets a very distinct tone for the first few songs. “Bang Bang” puts us behind the mask of a psychopathic young man in pursuit of fame due to the glorification of the perpetrators. The title track, “Revolution Radio” paints a picture of a contemporary riot with haunting lyrics such as “we will be seen but not heard”. This is a difficult subject matter that Green Day doesn’t shy away from, and when combined with their blaring guitars, we’re left with the gritty image of Contemporary America, for better or worse.
It’s after these initial opening songs that the album begins to lose its focus both lyrically and musically. The main culprits here are “Outlaws” and “Youngblood”, with some shades of “Bouncing of the Wall”, which mostly stray away from the political themes discussed before, and are fairly slower than the typically-fast Green Day rock that came before them. These songs all stand well on their own, (except for maybe “Outlaws”) but when played right after the opening songs, it feels like whiplash after going from such strong material to, well, not much material at all.
It’s only once we hit the final few tracks that the album really begins to regain its footing, starting with “Too Dumb to Die”. Green Day gets back towards the themes found in the initial stages of the album, and makes the wise choice to stick with it for the remaining songs on the album. But it’s the penultimate song “Forever Now” that really steals the show here. Its an almost seven minute rock anthem that brings “Jesus of Suburbia” to mind, while encapsulating all of the distinct themes that “Revolution Radio” has brought to us throughout the course of the album. Arguably the best song on the album, “Forever Now” combines the iconic earlier Green Day sound with the powerful themes brought up throughout “Revolution Radio”, creating one of their best songs in years.
“If this is what you call the good life, I want a better way to die.” Billie Joe Armstrong sings this lyric on “Forever Now”, only to later sing, “I wanna start a revolution, I wanna hear it on my radio.” These two lyrics encapture the two perspectives towards the state of America that Green Day depicts, and there isn’t necessarily a single right answer towards what to do. The first step towards change is accepting that there is a problem in the first place. And Green Day really wants you to see the problem. Because when “Revolution Radio” is firing on all cylinders, it offers insightful political commentary on the modern state of America that should be heard by music fans looking for some great rock music with some substance to it. Green Day is back, and with a familiar but poignant direction, this album serves as a great statement for what the band has to say about the world we live in.