Review Summary: How do you do, fellow punks?
One of the most infamus moments in Green Day's career, and one that can arguably be used to sum up their entire career up to this point, comes from an interview that Billie Joe Armstrong gave with an interview with Canadian music station MuchMusic in the 1990s. He famously told a joke about a kid who asks a punk what it means to be a punk. The punk kicks over a trash can and says, "that's punk". The kid then kicks over a trash can, and asks, "is that punk?", to which the punk responds, "that's not punk, that's trendy". Where am I going with this, you ask? Green Day succeeded back in the 1990s not because they were "punk"; they succeeded because their music was good, and even more so, it was self-aware. Green Day were very much aware that they were contributing to the thing they were simultaneously killing. True, Green Day hasn't been "punk" for ages, even ignoring the 9-minute prog rock odysseys that defined American Idiot
, the broadway show of the same name, or even Billie Joe's embarrassing on-air meltdown in 2012 that resulted in a Rehab stay. Which is why it's so jarring that the band is almost in their 50s now, trying as hard as they can to go back to their roots and, in the process, looking like Steve Buscemi from that episode of Community
That's right, Green Day's 13th studio album, Father of All Motherfuckers
, is as try-hard as you'd expect from a band pushing 50 and still trying to appear cool to kids, Never mind the awful cover art, the album title alone should tell you everything you need to know about its very existence. Some have interpreted its existence as a "we're at the end of our contract with WB, fuck it" joke, and that's fine and all, but it leads one to wonder why Green Day would pour so much time and effort into a joke. True, Green Day have never taken themselves too seriously, but when you consider that they've all but spend 16 years yeeting all their supposed "self awareness" out the window, it can't help but be cringingly jarring when you look at all the promotion surrounding the album. Be it the Boomerish "No trap beats, no Swedish producers" nonsense billboards, or Armstrong's nigh-incomprehensible statement announcing the release, Green Day's newest effort just can't help but feel as though it's one big "How do you do, fellow punks?" moment. What else explains songs like "I Was a Teenage Teenager", where Armstrong unironically sings lines like "who's hiding the drugs", or "I was a teenage teenager, full of piss and vinegar" over a 1950s esque power ballad beat? Some "punk" he is.
You've probably noticed, at this point too, that I've mentioned only one song in this review, and that's because despite listening to the album over and over several times, I still can't remember much at all about it. Green Day has gotten to the point where their trying hard is nothing BUT try hard. Hell, I wondered if they even tried
at all. This is exactly the kind of "filler" release you'd expect from a band when they're about to embark on a stadium tour with Weezer and Fall Out Boy of all bands. That's right, Green Day are so convinced that they're "punk", even pushing their 50s, that the irony of them playing in stadiums with fellow mainstream sweethearts has been completely lost of them. Either the ambition that they were filled with, with the release of their landmark album American Idiot
, has been squandered on that album alone, or they just don't care anymore. And if they don't care anymore, well, why should I.
But hey, it doesn't matter, as long as it's "punk", right? Or is it "trendy"?