Green Day



by Pedro B. USER (364 Reviews)
January 21st, 2024 | 1 replies

Release Date: 01/19/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The importance of having fun.

The course of their now four-decade career has seen Green Day go from exciting young pop-punk upstarts to respected founding fathers of the genre, to conceptual emo-pop-punk trendsetters and, finally, to one of the most divisive bands in the modern alt-rock panorama. The almost exactly twenty years since American Idiot inscribed the band into the select pantheon of artists with two masterpieces to their name, in particular, have done the band's reputation and credibility no favours, as the noxious mix of self-indulgence, multiple identity crises and the staunch refusal to 'act their age' brought the once-respectable trio dangerously close to self-parody, with a string of albums which were, at best, middling, and, at worst, some of the most turgid collections of songs ever printed onto a disc. The nadir, for many, was reached with 2020's Father of All..., an album so universally lambasted that no self-respecting band would dare raise their head for a long time afterwards.

This left the expectations for Saviors, the fourteenth studio album by Billie Joe and his two perennial acolytes, somewhere between the cautious optimism of die-hard fans (bolstered by a string of decent-to-good advance singles) and the lowest of low bars set by more casual onlookers. After all, this was the band whose last album was widely considered one of the worst of that year by fans and critics alike, and whose previous four before that had veered from failed experiments to virtual non-entities. However bloated or uninspired this album was, surely Green Day could not sink lower than Father or !Dos!...could they?

Fortunately, the answer to that particular question is negative; while Saviors is the farthest thing from an all-time classic, it is just as removed from the doldrums of the Californians' discography; rather, it sits pleasantly somewhere in the middle, perhaps wedged in-between Warning and !Uno!, the two records it takes the most cues from. It may never be held up to the lofty standards of Dookie or American Idiot (or even second-line runners like Insomniac or Kerplunk!) but it makes for a perfectly pleasant and adequate forty-five minute listening experience, unlikely to actively repulse fans of the group in the way their very worst albums were able to.

Crucially, Saviors is not trying to be a masterpiece. If song lengths somewhere in the three-minute range (with a couple of notable exceptions) had not been enough of a giveaway, even the most cursory of spins of the new fifteen-track offering will make it perfectly clear that Billie, Mike and Tre are not out to change the world this time around; rather, they are having fun, on a level not seen since !Uno!, and Nimrod before that. There are no pretensions at an epic scope here. No conceptual tales to tell. Barely any political messages. Billie Joe does still pay lip-service to familiar concepts such as rebellion, social engagement or 'starting a commotion', but by and large this is Green Day putting together a one-shot overview of their career, and enjoying themselves in the process, no more and no less – and, ironically, that is what makes it work where the likes of 21st Century Breakdown did not. With no obligation to adhere to any self-imposed challenges, Billie Joe and company are free to focus on what matters – namely, the concoction of the sort of catchy alt-pop-punk ditty on which they built their name during their twenties. The fact that this largely involves plucking riffs and vocal melodies from their previous discography (nearly every song directly references something else in the group's oeuvre, though sometimes more blatantly than others) is not lost on them; Green Day know they are ripping themselves off, and they are perfectly fine with that.

The initial salvo of songs wastes no time establishing what the listener is in for. The American Dream Is Killing Me is essentially Holiday if that song had been on Warning rather than the follow-up, while Look Ma, No Brain! harks even further back, having not sounded out of place on Insomniac; Bobby Socks filters Nirvana through the Green Day sieve - complete with Cobainesque vocal fry - and ends up in Violent Soho territory, while One Eyed Bastard does the same for the likes of Kaiser Chiefs, and Dillemma brings the timeline forward yet again, reflecting the trio's more modern songwriting trends. This impressive run (only Bastard falters slightly when compared to its companions) is capped off by possibly the best song Green Day have written since at least Uno!, the deliriously punky 1981 – the best of three songs on the album which barely break the two minute mark, and the absolute high point of the album.

Unfortunately, after the zenith comes the inevitable fall – and so it is that the still-decent Coma City ushers in a middle chunk of songs which, while never less than enjoyably listenable, are never anything more, either. The stretch between the aforementioned Coma City and Strange Days Are Here To Stay is the closest thing this album has to padding, and while nothing across it will register as offensively bad, songs like Corvette Summer and especially Suzy Chapstick will likely top the list of skips when playing through this album.

Luckily, Living In The 20s - the last and least remarkable of the three two-minute wonders – picks proceedings back up in time for a worthy finale, where Father To A Son and Fancy Sauce reaffirm Green Day's knack for a ballad, the latter sounding to all the world like a leftover from the Idiot/Breakdown phase, while the former expands on the surprising Beatles influence first felt on a random-sounding bridge in the opener, with the kind of full-on string arrangement the Fab Four would experiment with in the latter stages of their career being used to great effect. Sandwiched in-between the two, the title track makes for a fun mid-tempo, which does not embarrass itself in polite company, but does not stand a chance at making the highlight reel, either.

All told, at the end of forty-five minutes, the checks and balances come out in Green Day's favour. With Saviors, the group appear to have finally shed their mid-life and identity issues, and come to terms with who they should be at their age, and what their audience expects from them; and, in all honesty, they are all the better off for it.

Recommended Tracks
Look Ma, No Brains!
Bobby Socks
Father To A Son

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SaiseiTunes CONTRIBUTOR (4)
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Staff Reviewer
January 23rd 2024


Album Rating: 3.0

I've had so many thoughts in the main thread, but wanted to pop in here to say great review! Pos'd

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