23 November 2016

Green Day - Revolution Radio

Green Day are an act who (for me and many of my generation) were a group of snotty nosed upstarts who were somehow falling upwards, had a midlife crisis and then released ‘American Idiot’ which changed them for better or worse into one of the biggest bands on the planet and they went from Alternative to Classic in one swoop.  To such an extent that a lot of people will only think of them in that term, but it is such a strange thing to have witnessed to be honest.  They have worked at their craft, gained success in the face of adversity and all that jazz; they have earnt every piece of success and well done to them.  But what about their new record?  What is ‘Revolution Radio’ like, is it any good or is it appalling?

01 – Somewhere Now

Starting with a song that can best be described as a mixture between stadium rock with punk leanings, this song is so far away from where Green Day first started and it also feels like a natural progression from those early, snot-nosed little punk days.  With a feeling that is akin to ‘Jesus of Suburbia’ from ‘American Idiot’, it is a piece that is easy to feel excited about as it contains some good guitar playing and it adds drama at the beginning of the record.  But I can also see why some Green Day fans are not loving this direction; but that has been the case with Green Day since ‘Nimrod’ if we are all honest.  The message of the song is about a man who has left of the war zone and is struggling to adjust to real life, something that is often overlooked in society.

02 – Bang Bang

Starting with a sample of new reports going into details about an online execution, ‘Bang Bang’ was a strange choice for lead single from ‘Revolution Radio’.  At least in terms of subject matter as this is a fast American punk number potential anthem, with some great hooks and a solid structure to this song which is looking at how war can be glamorised by the media.  I am neither unimpressed or impressed by this number as it is a standard sound from Green Day, not doing anything spectacular, but it is still not bad either.

03 – Revolution Radio

It is time for the title track of this album now, again it is much the same as ‘Bang Bang’ for me.  It is a standard Green Day number, this time it is another version of ‘American Idiot’ with a protest song that is calling people to arms against oppressive authorities.  The sentiment behind this song is more impressive that the track itself, it is a slightly throwaway song that comes with the Pop Punk territory; but the message is a serious one that deserves to be heard, so the track gains more from those words than from the actual performance.

04 – Say Goodbye

‘Say Goodbye’ takes the Green Day sound and it changes it a little, not too much mind you, but enough to make it sound interesting once more.  I do not know if it is the big hook, the massive drums, the frantically strummed acoustic guitars in the mix or the fact it is not trying to be a throwback to their early style.  It sounds natural, it sounds like there has been progression as well.  But it is also a sound that I have heard by other bands, for some reason it sounds an awful lot like Sons & Daughters from Scotland in places; but it is generally a good song that gives a confident feeling to the audience.

05 – Outlaws

This feels like it could have been created for a musical (are they going to make another???) as it has a dramatic and sweeping sound to the guitars and vocals, it is digging that rock & roll vibes with a song about looking at the past with fondness and regret to a certain extent.  I like the contrast on this number, it feels organic and natural that the verses are lighter and the chorus has a dramatic turn with a number you can swoon to in certain ways.

06 – Bouncing off the Walls

At the halfway point of this album, ‘Bouncing off the Walls’ comes along and it has a big, brash opening riff that drops into a verse which loses some of that opening momentum.  It gains it back to a certain degree, but the riff is a little too generic for my tastes and it sounds very average.  But like a lot of Green Day, you still find yourself singing along to it.

07 – Still Breathing

A song about still being here, not being dead and feeling thankful for every breath that you are taking, whilst still being fragile and lost to a certain degree.  Now this song is one I can understand and I connect with straight away, which has not been the case with a lot of this record if I am honest.  I like the fighting spirit of the song, defying the odds and standing up for what you believe it.  Musically, it is a little slower with explosive choruses, but in a Green Day way.

08 – Youngblood

‘Youngblood’ is cut from the same cloth as ‘Know Your Enemy’ & ‘Minority’, it is a no-frill, rock & roll with a little bit of punk attitude and it is about a girl who is full of life, vitality and makes life (how shall I put it) interesting.  It is a throwaway song if I am honest, but it sounds fun and that has been missing from a lot of this album.  Definitely one of the better song on here.

09 – Too Dumb to Die

‘Too Dumb to Die’ is a song about feeling inadequate, slightly lost and without any purpose or hope.  The introduction sort of feels out of place with the rest of the song, it is a sort of throwback to an earlier era, but it does not gel natural into the pop punk number that evolves.  It is not a bad song by any stretch of the imagination and it does have a decent tune, but it is also not exactly burning the blue touch paper and lighting up my world.

10 – Troubled Times

A song about how everything is a little shitty in this present moment, wrote before the recently American election results and to be honest, it is a song that needs to be heard and performed.  The music is slower and moodier, but the message is the important piece to this number; it does not hide anything and it is written with such passion and honest.  If the music match it, I think this would have been my song of the album.

11 – Forever Now

When I first heard this, I thought it felt too messy and that it was a little disjointed in places; but after a few more listens, it has won me over with its changing dynamic, energy and the fact it goes from section to section, looping back on itself and it has a kick ass riff!  Formed from three songs, it was originally going to be the ending song for the album.  For my money, it still should have been the ending of the record, but that is just for my money.

12 – Ordinary World

Instead of ending on a kick-ass tune, Green Day have gone for a sentimental piece about how life is good when you are with someone who loves you.  This is a lovely sentiment; the music is also nice and it all feels so wrong to be honest, it takes what energy was in the album and stops it dead in its tracks.  This is no ‘Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)’, if it was a secret song then I could understand it, but it is not and it just ends the album strangely for me.

I have struggled with this review and I mean it has been a struggle to finish, I have picked up the album so many times and to get to the end is an effort; how did that happen when a Green Day album would be a record I have difficulty finishing, they are not exactly the world’s most complex band.  The music is decent to good, it is produced ok and it sound…. OK and I think that is why I have been struggling.  Apart from a couple of numbers, the band have sounded OK on the record and that is not something I would have expected here to be honest.  It is not as if I was expecting the best album ever, but I was not expecting a middle of the road album which almost becomes poor.  I applaud their fight against Donald Trump, I love their attitude in that regard and that is to be praised - this album is not something I can get on board with though.  If this is your cup of tea and you find my review to be misleading, please remember that I am only giving my opinion which is this – they have released a hell of a lot better records than this, this is just so average.

5 out of ten – It could have been better

Top track – Forever Now

You can purchase Revolution Radio on Amazon here.

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