Album Reviews · Music · punk

Album Review: Green Day – Revolution Radio

Dookie was probably the first and last album of my generation that was universally “cool.”  Everyone I knew either had it or at least knew about it.  And maybe since I was only in 5th grade at the time, music wasn’t as divisive as if I had been in high school or college during that period (this would resurface when Enema of the State came out during my sophomore year of high school, and was not anything close to a gateway album as it had been for numerous other kids).  Dookie was simple, kind of controversial (they cursed in some of the songs even though the record didn’t warrant a “Parental Advisory” sticker), and fun.  It wasn’t even really considered punk at the time, but more thrown into the alternative genre.  After being obsessed with the record like every other 5th grader I knew at the time, I more or less stopped paying attention to them.  Insomniac was overlooked by me and a lot of the general public, and I knew the hits from Nimrod and Warning, but never bought those records or even listened to them in entirety.  However, I did see them for the first time live on the “Pop Disaster Tour” with Blink 182 no less, when they were promoting their International Superhits record.

Then American Idiot happened.  I was in college at the time, and most of the crowd I hung out with was into it.  We blasted it in the car and in our dorms, and saw them a few times live (they actually played at my college during my senior year which was incredible).  I respected the concept aspect of the album and how ambitious it was, but overall thought it wasn’t anything groundbreaking.  It was just very catchy and fun to listen to, and got me interested in the band again.  Plus I loved the two 10 minute suites that were on there.

And again, 21st Century Breakdown and Uno, Dos, Tre! were in my my roster when first released, but never had much replay value aside from a few songs here and there.  I actually caught Green Day at the Studio at Webster Hall about 5 years ago, prior to the release of Uno, Dos, Tre! and while seeing them at a ~400 capacity venue was unlike anything I had ever experience, the Halloween themed set relied heavily on the new album, which unfortunately wasn’t released yet so most of the crowd didn’t know any of the songs. Seeing Green Day in a super intimate venue is awesome, but seeing them play all their songs you know and love is even better (Setlist is here in case you want to check it out).

So now we’re at Revolution Radio, and the main reason this album sparked my interest was the chatter about them going “back to their roots.”  Yes, a very novel idea that no band has attempted before.  I decided to give a listen, but not sure I was convinced much had changed.

I feel like Green Day has developed a more signature sound starting with the release of American Idiot.  I don’t know if it’s the production, Billie Joe’s vocals, the melodies and song structure, instrumentation, or a combination of all of them.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t see a whole lot of innovation or “back to roots” sound here.  The closest I notice is “Bang Bang” showing a strong resemblance to “Jaded” off Insomniac, and maybe “Too Dumb to Die” which has more of a mid-90s feel to it.  Other than that, I feel like a lot of the songs on Revolution Radio sound like they could be on American Idiot (or even 21st Century Breakdown).

This is who Green Day is now, and has been for the past 12 years or so.  Will I spend more time with this as I did with the previous two releases?  Likely not.  This is a solid album by the trio for sure, yet I know it will not resonate with me long term.  However, it does make me want to crank up American Idiot again and reminisce about my college years.

Track Listing:

  1. Somewhere Now
  2. Bang Bang
  3. Revolution Radio
  4. Say Goodbye
  5. Outlaws
  6. Bouncing Off the Wall
  7. Still Breathing
  8. Youngblood
  9. Too Dumb To Die
  10. Troubled Times
  11. Forever Now
  12. Ordinary World
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