Review Summary: It's pop-punk but damn it's really good pop-punk
The year was 2004, the band was Green Day and the album was American Idiot. After a couple of albums that didn’t do so well in the sales department American Idiot became the bands bestselling album and led to the band becoming a worldwide phenomenon seemingly overnight. But what made the album that spawned a whole new Hot Topic generation so special? I really have no idea.
Okay that last statement is only partially true because although Green Day are a pop-punk band and their isn’t much variation in their sound, American Idiot did indeed bring something new to the table and it wasn’t just Billie Joe’s newfound love of eyeliner.
The album from beginning to end has a huge sound that you would usually find present in an arena rock band’s sound. Songs like “Are We the Waiting,” and “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” exhibit huge sounding drums played by Tre Cool that grab your attention immediately and demand you to pay attention to the song from the start. I compare the sound of these drums to the drumming on Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” although they are completely different types of music the powerful drum sound is present in both albums and I dare you to not air drum to many of the songs on the CD.
Another reason this album got such a huge reception is the huge pop hooks found in the songs “American Idiot,” and “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” and generally throughout the album. When you start off an album with a riff so simple and catchy that’s part of a song with an already catchy chorus, you’re going to have people that take notice and be able to recognize the song from all corners of the world. And although they incorporated so many more pop hooks into their sound than before, the sound is still Green Day’s blend of modern pop-punk with a little bit of old school brit-punk mixed in.
The highlights of the CD however are the two 9 minute epics “Homecoming,” and “Jesus of Suburbia.” Here are two songs I never would have dreamed that Green Day would write. When I first saw how long each of these songs were I feared that they would be redundant and awful, which they are not. With both songs featuring four or five “movements” they never get stale and really illustrate the talents of Green Day as a band with both songs featuring guitar, drum, and bass solos by each member and even a special singing appearance by Tre on “Homecoming.”
Why give this album a 4 you ask? Well let me first say I am a Green Day fan boy and I enjoy their sound and this album is a big enough departure from their sound to stay fresh while also remaining a Green Day album through and through. The biggest reason I love this album is the rock opera element that ties the whole album together and you really feel like you are being told a story, which they have failed to do on their newest release 21st Century Breakdown to the same level as was accomplished in American Idiot. This story telling element is what truly separates this album from all Green Day albums and is comparable to The Who’s Tommy, in its level of execution.
At its basic level this album is a pop-punk album and comes with all the positives and negatives associated with the genre so if you dislike the pop-punk sound don’t listen to it, but if you do enjoy the genre there are only a few other albums I could recommend higher than American Idiot.