Sunday, February 12, 2012

Green day - 21st Century Breakdown

One from the archives for today - more new coming in the next few weeks

Today we look at Green Day's 8th "21st Century Breakdown". The opinion so far seems split down the middle - love, or hate. As for me? Overall a 6/10. Why 6? Based on the first impression/first listen - I reacted as one might when you go eat dinner, and the appetizer is delicious, succulent food that makes you want for more, then the main course comes and it's nothing but...4 day old re-heated meatloaf...such a letdown. A few more times around though, it does start to sound a little better than that description lets on. "American Idiot" was a Bush-era screed hitting on some very specific points (notably rage aimed at the dittoheads who sought to label all who disagreed with the hard-core right-wingers as treasonous/dishonorable/whatever you want to call it). This time around, the anger is less well focused. The prozac-popping yuppie-collective is a frequent target, and many barbs are hurled at (for lack of a better phrase) sanitized megamall america - but even with those specifics the album seems all over the place. Where it hits well, though, it hits, such as on the crunchy, classic-Green-Day sounding lockstep march of "East Jesus Nowhere", or later in the equally punchy "Horseshoes and Handgrenades"/"Murder City".

On the other hand, "Restless Heart Syndrome" is cut from the same cloth as "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" - so if you hated the former, you'll hate the latter, and vice versa. Personally, it sounds to me like them doing the "soft ballad that ends with a bang" formula well - still a formula, but done well, and with an earnest nature that Green Day don't always wear so blatantly on their sleeves. It suffers more from being repeated too many times on one album ("Last Night On Earth" anyone?) In any case, this album stands as not a strict follow-up to American Idiot, but still a concept album, injecting the storytelling into Green Day's classic catchy pop-punk power chords. It also gets a bit long in the tooth, like Idiot, but the catchy feel to each of the tunes keeps it from getting too ingratiating. (But then, that's what MP3 players and playlists to shave out the least-favorites are for, eh?)

Much criticism has been lobbed at this (and Idiot) for being nothing like Dookie/Insomniac/Kerplunk/Nimrod. Much as that is true, it still owes its existance to the catchy melodies honed and practised on those albums. And really, would you want them to just keep on spitting out the same album over and over again? I wouldn't. And the truth is - they aren't the same people who made Dookie. 15 years from now, will any of you reading this be EXACTLY the same person? I doubt it. Case in point: If you love the old and hated them after Idiot - nothing to change your mind here. If you like them as they are and as they were, pick it up and give it a spin - they used the same trick twice and MOSTLY got away with it. Here's hoping they get a bit more inventive on album #9 - or they really will have run out of steam...and whatever's on that plate will taste far less appetizing than the aforementioned 4 day old reheated meatloaf, I assure you.

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