Review Summary: A pop punk "classic" that at times shows glimpses of this status, but all too often disappoints
Green Day truly have a lot to answer for, having probably the most inconsistent career in the pop-punk genre. They are one of the only bands that can claim to have great albums as Dookie among other albums such as iUno and 21st Century Breakdown, which were plagued with flaw upon flaw. However, their most debated album is 2004's American Idiot, considered by some to be the absolute peak of their career, and by others to be where it all went wrong. One thing is clear, however, and that is that American Idiot is the definitive Green Day album.
Fun and entertaining guitar riffs" Check. The guitar work across this album is thoroughly enjoyable, with the pounding riffs to the title track opening up the album in an extremely catchy manner, and the monstrous track Jesus Of Suburbia, clocking in at around ten minutes, being driven by its pulsing guitar work. This is Green Day's finest guitar work as it is completely memorable whilst being exceedingly simplistic across the board. For the most part, it is over-using the same few chords over and over again until the riff is drilled into the listener's head, and they are bobbing along to every single note. The guitars are the best feature of this album, closely followed by the lyrics.
The lyrics on this album are offensive and sarcastic, and point a finger at pretty much everything, from the government to the average person. This is a very political album, being written in Green Day's signature brash, curse-happy style, but is still the sort of lyrics that the listener will be singing along to every time they hear. The vocals that carry these angst-filled lyrics are nothing special. The singer has a powerful enough voice, but no real emotion behind it. The vocals are emotionless and flat, rarely changing key, but still manage to create interesting enough vocal patterns that are great to listen to and really have fun listening to. However, certain lines of this album do manage to standout, in particular parts of the title track, but for the most part, this is just flat and one-toned.
The drumming is fairly decent for a pop-punk album, without much talent behind it but keeping a solid beat for the guitars to build off. However, the same can not be said for the bass, which is audible enough throughout, but never manages to do anything different. It merely follows the guitars all the way through, feeling completely lost and merely a clone of the guitar work. The bassist of this band really should have stepped his game up a little but never manages to shine, and is often just left behind by the other instruments, which are a lot louder mixed. The highlight of the bass work is found across the first two tracks, with it being given numerous attempts to shine when it is allowed to play alone in the title track, and throughout all of Jesus Of Surburbia. The bass for this release, however, is completely sub-par.
The songs on this album that really work are American Idiot, parts of Jesus Of Surburbia, and mega hit Boulevard Of Broken Dreams. All three have interesting enough guitar riffs, passable drums, and, in the case of the former, bass work that stands out a little. The lyrics are all powerful enough in their own right, despite being immature at times, such as the line "Well maybe im the faggot America", which has no actual vocal pattern that fits the music, feeling forced, and completely childish.
This is another album that has also lost any form of power that it once had. Upon release, this was revolutionary, introducing many new fans to the genre of pop-punk. However, it has been overplayed to the point of becoming stale, with the chinks in the armor really starting to show. The over reliance on the verse-chorus structure on nearly every song is one crippling factor, with no deviation from this at all. This fast becomes repetitive and boring, and does nothing to help this albums replay value. The guitar solos are a little underwhelming as well, being very slow and without any variation to them whatsoever, having just been seemingly shoe horned into the album in order to show off to the impressionable youngsters who get hold of this release. Also, the songs are often too long to fit the samey structures found on nearly every song and the very simple, tiring guitar riffs long outstay their welcome, especially on the song Jesus Of Surburbia. This is a great song for a while, but its length truly works against it, despite some nice drum fills throughout and at least an attempt to stray away from the beaten path of this album, with some nice keyboard work.
Holiday was a mega-hit off of this album and it truly is mind boggling that this song ever became as popular as it did. Upon release, everybody knew and loved this song, but it has been played over and over again so much that any charm it once held has long since evaporated, leaving only stagnancy in its place. This is one of the most overhyped, overrated songs that has ever been released, with its tiring introductory riffs and silly faux bouncy styling to it. This is the most streamlined, mainstream oriented song on the album, with every single little drum fill being predictable, and the soaring chorus ending with that annoying long note held by the vocalist. This is a poor song that does not deserve its status as one of the best radio-rock/pop-punk songs ever released.
This is a mixed bag of an album, that is certainly thrilling enough upon first listen, with a number of killer songs and a lot of entertainment value to be found. However, it has a number of flaws that truly do cripple the album, ruining and idea the listener gets of the album from the first listen or two. It fast becomes dull and boring, with nothing to propel it throughout its entirety, feeling very underwhelming.