Green Day
21st Century Breakdown


3.5
great

Review

by Ali CONTRIBUTOR (131 Reviews)
May 9th, 2009 | 313 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An album with plenty of flaws, but ultimately one that delivers.

Every so often, an album comes along that hugely splits opinion, appearing constantly on both "best" and "worst" lists and sparking constant debate. The 2000's have spawned plenty of albums like this, and arguably the most well known of these is Green Day's political semi-concept, American Idiot, released in 2004. This album marked a huge change in the direction of the bands music, with a far more ambitious and epic feel than any of the bands previous releases. Despite its success, however, American Idiot immediately presented Green Day with a problem; how to follow it up. Should they have continued their progression and written another "rock opera," entirely alienating many of their older fans, or return to their signature pop-punk sound, pleasing these fans while potentially upsetting their more mainstream audience? With the long awaited 21st Century Breakdown, they have attempted to please both halves of their fan base, by essentially trying both options.

Even before you hear the music, there is so much to potentially hate about the album. Its presentation, as three different "Acts" is totally over the top and self indulgent, the albums concept and lyrics are horribly clichéd, and the lack of musical progression will be seen by many as a weakness. Some may even argue that the album already feels dated, with the negative political themes seeming rather out of place in America's current wave of post-Bush optimism. However, there was also plenty to hate about American Idiot, but that album has gone on to sell twelve million copies to date. Granted, many did hate that album, but there were also some (myself included) who loved the new direction the band had taken, and still regard it as their strongest release.

The albums main drawback is its length. It contains eighteen songs, which stretch out over seventy minutes. This means that it can become boring in places, and can be difficult to listen to in its entirety as a result. As mentioned, the albums presentation, as three "Acts;" Heroes And Cons, Charlatans And Saints and Horseshoes And Handgrenandes seems totally unnecessary, especially as these sections have very little difference musically. The concept of the album is vague and hard to follow, and isn't helped by lyrics such as "You're a sacrificial suicide, Like a dog that's been sodomized," which are hard to ignore throughout.

So how, with all of these problems does 21st Century Breakdown merit a 3.5 rating? The answer is simple; there isn't a bad song on it. In fact, every song individually is thoroughly enjoyable, the problem is that you may lose interest in places due to the albums bloated state. The way that the album is presented bears closest resemblence to American Idiot, and some songs here would have fitted well into that album. Musically, though most of the songs here sound more like the ultra-accessible pop-punk from Nimrod or Warning. In general, these throwback moments work well, and provide many of the albums highlights.

It begins, however, very much in American Idiot territory, with the title track following a short introduction. This is actually one of the albums slower songs, along the same lines as Wake Me Up When September Ends, but works reasonably well as an opener. Know Your Enemy, which follows sounds very like one of the more upbeat moments from the previous album. It was an underwhelming lead single, but fortunately works far better in the context of the album. After that though, the majority of the songs sound like the band before reinvention. !Viva La Gloria! bursts into the bands distinctive loose, punky flow after a more considered opening, and the skuzzy Christians Inferno proves an early highlight, and is probably the best song of an impressive opening act.

Act II unfortunately isn't as good, but is nevertheless a solid collection of standard Green Day songs. Had they done the sensible thing, and cut a number of songs from the final release, you feel that the majority of this section would be emitted, as much of it simply isn't as interesting or lively as the rest of the material. Act III, however, kicks the album back into gear in fine style, with some of its best songs. Horseshoes And Hand Grenades (the song) is superior to anything from the previous act, yet still comes off as one of the weakest songs from this section. The highpoint is probably The Static Age, a wonderful blast of classic Green Day, that would be a good bet for next single, as it is undoubtadly the catchiest song on the album. Ok, it's a little similar to Church On Sunday, an underrated gem from Warning, but it still stands out among other very solid songs. The remaining trio, 21 Guns, American Eulogy and See The Light also rank among the albums better songs, maintaining an excellent ending.

Overall, despite the fact that the album can get a little boring in its mid-section, it still serves as a successful follow up to one of this decades most well known releases. Its flaws are plentiful, but ultimately the music speaks for itself in terms of quality. Those who aren't fans of the band would be best advised to stay away, but there should certainly be plenty to enjoy for fans of Dookie onwards. It isn't Green Day's strongest release, but under the circumstances is probably all that could be expected. Regardless of everything, it will undoubtadly sell millions, and be an album rightly remembered for its strengths rather than weaknesses.

Recommended Tracks
American Eulogy
Christian's Inferno
Know Your Enemy
See The Light
The Static Age



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user ratings (1988)
Chart.
2.6
average
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Dalton DuBois (1)
    Iron Sputnik Episode 1 – Green Day Soufflé...

    Michael B. (2.5)
    Three-part symphony of insanity proves to be a game of two halves....

    DrEpic4181 (2.5)
    21st century breakdown is one of the stupidest albums ever made...

    Nicksta101 (3)
    Green Day’s storied career may end on a low note after their latest offering in concept ...

  • Alexandra Caramelli (2.5)
    Another "punk rock opera" by Green Day laced with pianos and violins....

    MartinBigg (5)
    Green Day's most ambitious album to date is here, but is it their best effort?...

    Dylan S. (3)
    This is exactly what you would expect from Green Day post-American Idiot...

    quesoboy88 (2)
    Nice melodies, but horrible lyrics, storytelling, and singing make 21st Century Breakdown ...

  • megalodon (4)
    I don't remember the last time Pop-Punk sounded so good....

    Nosferatwo (3)
    Green Day tries to recycle the formula, but misses the mark....

    Pedro B. (4)
    Green Day's real maturity album surmounts its flaws through sheer force of character....

    Adam Downer STAFF (2)
    Fantastically, Gloriously, Epically average....


Comments:Add a Comment 
AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
May 9th 2009


7404 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Streaming at http://www.wmuk-apache.co.uk/greenday/player

Athom
Staff Reviewer
May 9th 2009


17225 Comments


EC is stoked.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
May 9th 2009


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

123

and yeah heroes and cons is the best act by far. Tough to sit through, but there's enough good here to make this pretty good. Just so longgg... 3-3.5This Message Edited On 05.09.09

Meatplow
May 9th 2009


5524 Comments


Excellent, I agree completely. There are people seething with venom over this release, but i'd save it for something that's actually worth hating on because at it's worst this is mediocre and not the crime against music which some are claiming it to be.

KILL
May 9th 2009


72090 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

KNOW YOUR ENEMY *awesome riff* oh wait...

Digging: Steve Hackett - Out of the Tunnel's Mouth

SeaAnemone
May 9th 2009


20834 Comments


worst album cover of the year

YouAreMySilence
May 9th 2009


3727 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

Congrats on making it through the whole album, thats something I will never be able to do again.

Terrible album.

KILL
May 9th 2009


72090 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

good review though pos

marksellsuswallets
May 9th 2009


4848 Comments


So how, with all of these problems does 21st Century Breakdown merit a 3.5 rating? The answer is simple; there isn't a bad song on it.

Know Your Enemy is horrible...

I keep trying to listen to this but I keep catching sections of songs that they've ripped off from their own songs on previous albums...plus it's largely boring and samey on its own.

ataraxia01
May 9th 2009


215 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Decent review. As much as I want to love this album like I did American Idiot, I can't. It's hard to shake the "been there, done that" feeling that it has and the album isn't as diverse musically as American Idiot was. Agreed the lyrics, at times, can be ridiculous and cliched. My favorite tracks so far are:

"Christian's Inferno"
"¡Viva la Gloria!"
"Peacemaker"
"Murder City"
"East Jesus Nowhere"
"Before the Lobotomy"
"Horseshoes and Handgrenades"

Fugue
May 9th 2009


7354 Comments


Great review Ali, can't say I care about this though (probably those prejudices you talk about)

Digging: Damien Rice - My Favourite Faded Fantasy

Phantom
May 9th 2009


8930 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

Good review, but I disagree.

ataraxia01
May 9th 2009


215 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Know Your Enemy is horrible...

I keep trying to listen to this but I keep catching sections of songs that they've ripped off from their own songs on previous albums...plus it's largely boring and samey on its own.


Agreed. I posted the similarities in the news about the album stream. Here is what I found so far. Still think the album is OK so far.

The beginning of "Before the Lobotomy" sounds like the beginning of LB's remake of "Behind Blue Eyes".

Chorus of "!Viva La Gloria!" sounds like the verse's of Green Day's own "Letterbomb".

"Peacemaker" is basically "Misery" from "Warning".

Last one I've noticed so far, the chorus in "?Viva La Gloria?", listen to "Blood, Sex and Booze" 2:15 - 2:23. They are almost exactly alike.

As awesome as "!Viva La Gloria!" is, it's just a mashup of "Letterbomb", "Prosthetic Head" and various other Green Day songs.

The main riff IS "Letterbomb" and "Horseshoes and Handgrenades" is basically a "The Vines" song.

Melody for "Static Age" is completely the same as "Church on Sunday" as is the riff.This Message Edited On 05.09.09

Strat79
May 9th 2009


1 Comments


I agree with ataraxia01 completely. I would add...

"Horseshoes and Handgrenades" is a spot on rip-off of "Main Offender" by The Hives. I wouldn't doubt if they are sued for this. They rip-off the guitar riff along with the melody.

"See The Light" is the same as "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC in the chorus. The guitar solo pretty much exactly follows this melody as well.
Also similar to "(I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight" by Cutting Crew.

"Static Age" is extremely similar to "Church on Sunday" as has been said.

"Christian's Inferno" is very similar to several of The Network tunes.

"21 Guns" follows the "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" verses exactly. The drum part, bass line, tempo are all the same. You can sing the "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" lyrics over the verses...Try it.

"American Eulogy" recycles the melody from "Deadbeat Holiday" off of Warning for the verses.

"?Viva La Gloria?" recycles elements from "Misery" from Warning in the verses and the chorus is the same as "Blood, Sex, and Booze" off of Warning.

"Murder City" recycles "Letterbomb" from AI over and over again (the chorus, the guitar solo) as does "!Viva La Gloria!" in the chorus.

I honestly can't believe it took 5 years to do this. For me, this album feels dead on arrival.This Message Edited On 05.09.09

ataraxia01
May 9th 2009


215 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Holy God, "H & H" IS "Main Offender"!!!! Like, it's exactly the same. Right down the static-y effect on his voice. That's what I meant, not "The Vines".

Meatplow
May 9th 2009


5524 Comments


does it really bear that much close analysis? it's hard to be truly original writing power chord riffs y'know, esp. a 70 minute long concept album using them

Holy God, "H & H" IS "Main Offender"!!!! Like, it's exactly the same. Right down the static-y effect on his voice. That's what I meant, not "The Vines".


If it goes this far though that's a different story. ;)

marksellsuswallets
May 9th 2009


4848 Comments


Wow...it really is...it's almost completely the same.

Cesar
May 9th 2009


2732 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great review

KILL
May 9th 2009


72090 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

4 5s no wai

Lunarfall
May 9th 2009


3179 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

good review for a not so good album



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