The year is 1994, and Green Day have just released ‘Dookie’ – a fourteen track behemoth that catapults this simple, punk rock trio to the unprecedented heights of headline festivals slots and sell-out worldwide tours. In the following years and releases, Green Day try to maintain their superstar status with a string of meticulously crafted albums. While these were in no way bad, and by any other band’s standards they would be considered stellar records, they just weren’t ‘Dookie’.
Ten years later, Green Day‘s popularity is still on a slight but steady decline, like a 747 that had run out of fuel and was just gliding. Then ‘American Idiot’ happens, and the response is ‘Dookie’ times ninety. Now, Green Day are selling out arenas worldwide and headlining festivals, as well as award shows and TV slots, and their videos are being shot and produced by critically acclaimed directors. Green Day have not only made a phenomenal comeback, but redefined the word entirely.
However, they have not learnt from past mistakes. Subsequent releases saw Green Day trying to recreate ‘American Idiot’, first with ’21st Century Breakdown’, which is essentially an attempt at a replica with a bigger post-production budget but notably less heart. Then comes the triple album release (‘¡Uno!’, ‘¡Dos!’, ‘¡Tré!’), the very definition of quantity over quality, where the trio quite clearly know that if they throw enough shit at a wall, some of it will stick.
Yet again, Green Day find themselves merely coasting through the lofty heights of fame, running on empty and starting to loose altitude. But, just like with ‘American Idiot’, a decade has passed since its release, and they’ve finally refound their spark with their belter of a twelfth album, ‘Radio Revolution’.
Returning to their staple mix of three (or so) chords and less punk more rock, ‘Radio Revolution’ is an eclectic mix of twelve incredible songs. Some are obviously better than others, but even the weaker numbers are still hugely catchy. Opener ‘Somewhere Now’ is a lacklustre, somewhat sluggish track, but the album only builds from this point.
This is easily the most comparable work to ‘American Idiot’ since… well, ‘American Idiot’. Most tracks have an underlying political message, but none are linked through a convoluted concept album. You have ‘Youngblood’ that screams ‘She’s A Rebel’, as does ‘Bang Bang’, which is essentially a longer and frankly better ‘St. Jimmy’. There are even a couple of wonderful throw backs to earlier albums, with the likes of ‘Trouble Time’ that is dripping with the laidback vibes of ‘Warning’.
The highpoint of the album, however, and indeed the clear indication that Green Day are back on track is ‘Still Breathing’. Think of the raw, emotional anthems like ‘Waiting’ and ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’, the ones that have you screaming your lungs out no matter where you happen to hear these songs. That is ‘Still Breathing’. Not only is it the best song on the record, but it’s a wonderful testament and reminder of Green Day‘s amazing song writing abilities.
This album is not a return to their roots or a re-invention of the wheel; it’s simply a step back in complexity but leaps and bounds forwards in the quality of their songs. Green Day doesn’t need bells and whistles to make their songs sound amazing, and it’s clear that they know that now.
Written by Andy Roberts (@Sassensquatch)