In the 4 years since Green Day’s last release, Billie Joe has become sober, Jason White and Brittney Dirnt have flipped off cancer, and social and racial inequality have flooded the media. And while the ambition of their previous trilogy was admirable, it did have a tendency, in places, to be lukewarm and somewhat tedious. Revolution Radio, however, depicts a Green Day that are refreshed and most definitely back on their game – this is an album that is as hot as the flaming ghetto blaster used to advertise it. The 12 track collection is a welcome departure from the previous rock opera and trilogy concepts, and is the first album since 2000’s Warning that has witnessed the band take on full production responsibilities, leaving behind the expertise of Rob Cavallo and Butch Vig.
Commencing with I’m running late to somewhere now, I don’t want to be,’ ‘Revolution Radio’ instantly has the average slave to the rat race concurring, before the opener, Somewhere Now, even begins to gather speed. And boasting the ‘best drumming that Tré has ever laid down,’ the 12th studio offering from California’s finest only gets better from there. The album showcases everything from the entertaining Bouncing Off The Wall, and the Dookie-esque Too Dumb To Die, to the affecting Still Breathing, which details Billie’s struggle with prescription pills, culminating in his 2012 stint in rehab.
However, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves that the eyeliner-clad frontman’s lyric speciality is political. Bang Bang, the debut single, premiered on 11th August, and while it wasn’t an instant hit, a few listens should be enough to indicate that Green Day are, undeniably, back to take the politics of the world head on. Written from the point of view of a mass shooter, referred to as a ‘Semi-automatic lonely boy,’ this track bleeds with aggression and psychosis, depicting an all too familiar scenario in the media today. The political punctuation transfers into the title track Revolution Radio, inspired by Armstrong’s active participation in a Black Lives Matter movement in New York in 2014 – something which he rightfully felt strongly compelled to do.
Despite Green Day returning to their roots with this record, they have recalled remnants of their past conceptual inspiration and really made it work, illustrated excellently in the colossal Forever Now, which drills through the eardrums, exclaiming ‘My name is Billie and I’m freaking out!‘ A track that could be likened to the composition of ‘Homecoming,’ this rock opera of sorts clocks in at almost 7 minutes, and ingenuously utilises the writing of the opening track as a means of melding the scenes. The pace of the 12 track sensory overload is then slowed to a mesmerising halt through the finale punk lullaby of Ordinary World, the title song for the upcoming identically named film, which tells the story of a father and husband who had previously failed as a rock star. The poignant lyrics are made more prominent by the presence of just Armstrong’s vocals and an acoustic guitar, which draw the track list to a close beautifully, with ‘Baby I don’t have much, but what we have is more than enough, ordinary world.‘
With a sold out world tour on the way, and the ammunition of ‘Revolution Radio’ stashed and primed to unleash, Green Day are fixed to be an unbeatable force as 2017 beckons. Love them or loathe them, Oakland’s army are undeniably the dominating power in the pop punk race, who will, undoubtedly, leave the critics questioning why they ever overlooked them in the first place, and the fans feeling that the band’s hiatus has been more than worth the wait.