21st Century Breakdown
15 May 2009
by Raziq Rauf
While 2004’s 12 million-selling, generation-defining American Idiot was timed to perfection – released at the height of anti-Bush confusion – the appointment of the righteous and celebrated Barack Obama last year suggests Green Day should have much less to rally against.
The ever-incisive Billie Joe Armstrong has been a punk in the public eye on the highest platform for 20 of those years and even in 2009 he is still one of the most vital, fiercely political and unifying spokespeople around. Suggesting that he might dare to rehash past successes and fail to cut straight through to the crust of the political landscape would be a huge insult.
Just like its predecessor, 21st Century Breakdown relies on the rock opera format to help disguise its characters within a flimsy, easy-to-follow story. However, rather than simply re-delivering the same vicious message of despair and frustration of American Idiot, this is frantic call-to-arms in a bid to repair the vast damage already done.
The title track comes early in the album and is the truest refelction of the album as Green Day manage to sound like four totally different bands (Queen, Mott The Hopple, Eagles, Beatles) within the five minutes of the song, but inbetween each one, they’ll effortlessly go back to sounding like themselves.
You know that you’ll always have that standard Green Day punk fare on this album – it’s a given – but it’s the ballads (‘Last Night On Earth’, ‘Before The Lobotomy’ and the start of ‘¡Viva la Gloria!’) that are glossier and more syrupy than ever and the cathartic tracks (‘Horseshoes And Handgrenades’) which are more acidic and violent than ever which really make your ears prick.
Watch the video to ‘Know Your Enemy’ by Green Day
Green Day are still pushing their own music boundaries and after selling that many records (again), it must be said that that really is the mark of a truly great band.
The lyrics are razor-sharp and penetrating whilst still promoting solidarity and ambition, weaving the tri-faceted concept (politics, religion and war) together magnificently and the sound that Nevermind and Siamese Dream producer, Butch Vig has helped create gives the record the stadium-sized bombast it requires.
Green Day had better make some space on their walls for another diamond disc because 21st Century Breakdown is another punk rock triumph that will be embraced by all.
Sounds like: 18 slices of punk rock hope and determination, Green Day
Top tracks: 21 Guns, 21st Century Breakdown, ¡Viva la Gloria!
Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown tracklisting
Song of the Century
— Act I: Heroes and Cons
21st Century Breakdown
Know Your Enemy
¡Viva la Gloria!
Before the Lobotomy
Last Night on Earth
— Act II: Charlatans and Saints
East Jesus Nowhere
Last of the American Girls
¿Viva La Gloria? (Little Girl)
Restless Heart Syndrome
— Act III: Horseshoes and Handgrenades
Horseshoes and Handgrenades
The Static Age
See the Light