Review Summary: My downward spiral, oh yeah
Say what you will about American Idiot
, but that album transformed Green Day from snot-nosed punks to grown-up, stately, (boring)
, rock n’ roll hall of famers. It was particularly influential, capturing the disillusionment of living in a post-9/11 society. No one was naïve enough to believe that Green Day (of all bands) was politically intelligent, but they were
savvy enough to capitalize on the moment, crafting a punk-rock opera/magnum opus that swirled with enough political clichés to rile up its target audience. The effect in reality was much larger: not only was it a bullseye hit on its intended mark, but it netted millions of new fans and became a milestone release of the 2000s. These ideas overstayed their welcome during 21st Century Breakdown
, but it was tolerable because Green Day still seemed to care about creating music for a larger, more important cause. Whether or not those messages were formed with any sort of clarity is another story, but at least they were trying. Unfortunately, that’s where the wheels all fell off and we were plunged into the UNO, DOS, TRE
trilogy, which aside from being an enormous professional failure was also (unintentionally, presumably) an admission of defeat. Each installment sounded the part of a b-side collection, and none of them should have seen the light of day. If you can even remember the name of one song from that trilogy, you are among the blessed. Revolution Radio
– a complacent and forgettable album in its own right – teased a return to normalcy for the band, but now we have Father of All Motherfuckers
crashing through the walls to institute a full relapse into the trilogy’s absurdity. It’s a hot mess that destroys any hope that Green Day could re-emerge as a band worth listening to.
Everything about Father of All Motherfuckers
is lazy. It begins with the self-referential American Idiot
album cover, which features a unicorn exhaling/vomiting rainbows whilst forcefully blowing flames out of its ass. The music is befitting of said artwork, as even the staunchest fan would have an aneurysm trying to figure out what the hell these guys were thinking on this one. Billie Joe Armstrong wails on in high-pitched falsetto, his vocals either digitally altered or lent that dreaded “canned” effect about ninety eight percent of the time, and for absolutely no reason. The guitars sound slick and washed over, adding absolutely no bite as the band tries furiously and in vain to keep the pace lively. The drums thump like a crumpled up ball of paper hitting the rim of a trash can – empty sounding, devoid of hope, and full of failure. Butch Walker probably regrets having any hand in this dumpster fire of a record, and I’m not convinced that he didn’t at some point during the recording process say ah, fuck it
, and then just go all-in on trying to make this thing sound as hideous as possible. To make matters far worse, the lyrics are a noticeable step down
for a band that is already renowned for having poor lyrics. If you’ve ever wanted to hear a man approaching fifty years old howl “How high is your low gonna go, girl? Oh-ooh-oh-oh”, then Father of All Motherfuckers
might be for you. There’s also the lines, “Huh-uh, come on, honey…Huh-uh, what's so funny?”, “My pride is my pornography, Kool-Aid is my motto”, “I don't wanna be a Romeo”, “I was a teenage teenager”, and “You can take a walk or you can suck my cock.” Every song is chock-full of embarrassment; a veritable who’s who of awkward one-liners with absolutely no logical or thematic ties.
There are precious few moments where Father of All Motherfuckers
accidentally approaches being listenable. ‘Stab You in the Heart’ comes across as a carefree bop even if it’s lyrically and melodically redundant, while ‘Sugar Youth’ – replete with annoying handclaps and a refrain that is almost a carbon copy of American Idiot
’s ‘She’s a Rebel’ – still has enough energy to feel like
a punk song even though it isn’t. This is where we are at with Green Day, though – essentially picking through the garbage for remnants of something halfway interesting, nostalgic, or worthwhile. The bottom line is this: Green Day has clearly thrown in every single towel that they own, and have churned out Father of All Motherfuckers
merely to fulfill a contractual obligation. So if Green Day no longer cares, then why should we?