Review: Green Day - 'Revolution Radio'
On their twelfth studio album ‘Revolution Radio’, US punk-rock outfit Green Day are not exactly rewriting the rule book. The LP doesn’t go anywhere too unexpected, however, what does give the album its bite is a large splattering of social commentary.
And yet despite all of it, the majority of the tracks impact eagerly and are more than happy to play around with pop sensibilities.
So while ’Revolution Radio’ features nothing that can truly contend with the group’s best offerings over the last 25-plus years, there are no big letdowns and plenty of full-sounding, riotous, satisfying rock tunes to get stuck into.
On the surface ‘Say Goodbye’ is simply one more stadium-filling Green Day number, however the band cannily use it to lament violence in the world. Most notably, parts of the song have the rockers focusing in on the “cops on patrol” and how “they’re the ones in control”.
Toasting a rebel spirit which transcends age and apparently even death, ’Outlaws’ is a mid-tempo dedication to life’s outsiders. Though lead singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong croons gallantly over the jaggedly romantic effort, ‘Outlaws’ falls short of being truly anthemic - still, the song glimmers with emotional charge.
The superior ’Still Breathing’ also makes its mark with an underlying, slowly-unwinding emotional pull. The tune works well as a sort of companion piece to the rousing ‘Youngblood’, which boasts many of the same strengths.
With catching melodies and a call-and-shout hook, ‘Youngblood’ does away with the societal concern that drives the songs surrounding it. Although that being said, Armstrong is heard boldly inviting the song’s subject to “watch the world fall to pieces” with him.
Proving Green Day can keep up with the best of them, ‘Bouncing Off The Wall’ is a three-minute riot of blazing punk energy. Set upon a house party backdrop, there’s a carefree element within the track’s lyrics that’s missing from the rest of the comparatively conscious 'Revolution Radio'.
While it may seem Green Day seem happy to simply comment on the times, instead of offering solutions or more pointed opinions on particular ideas, events or initiatives they have an issue with, it feels like the whole point of ‘Revolution Radio’ is redirect their own fans’ attentions out into the wider world - and ‘Troubled Time’ does so unashamedly.
The band jump head first into ‘Too Dumb To Die’ which muses on military service and the eagerness of its new, young recruits.
Disguised in a chirpy rock finish, the band hint at the heartbreak experienced when families lose its members in conflicts overseas.
The album’s political messages are potent when expertly balanced out with the unabashed punk pop Green Day are best known for - and ’Too Dumb To Die’ is one of the tracks that does this most effectively.
Heavy, purposeful, energetic - and laced with further hard-to-ignore observations on the world - highlight ’Forever Now’ drives undeterred through a handful of attractive harmonies, musical breakdowns and phases.
Despite the fact the song is needlessly stretched out to almost seven-minutes long, ‘Forever Now’ retains an instant, sing-along appeal.
With the band calling for agenda-free media outlets on the LP’s title track, it’s final tune ‘Ordinary World’ is wholesome, stripped-down, folksy affair.
Clearly directed at someone special, the easy-to-digest showstopper feels intimate and Armstrong’s vocals are earnest, humbled and almost-naive sounding.
As he utters the track’s hopeful, wide-eyed lyrics, the simplistic melodic arcs of ‘Ordinary World’ admittedly become increasingly hard to say no to.