On October 7th, Green Day release their 12th studio album entitled Revolution Radio. The album comes 4 years after the three part project of Uno!, Dos!, and Tres!, which did not make the cut for me as standout albums from the group. It also comes 4 years after lead singer and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong served time in rehab following his rather infamous stunt at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in 2012 (which I found to be pretty badass).
I grew up listening to American Idiot and then Dookie when I got older, and I fell in love with the band’s edgy pop punk style. Despite 2009’s 21st Century Breakdown receiving generally positive reviews and a Grammy for Best Rock Album, I don’t think it came close to the greatness of American Idiot, which came out in 2004. Needless to say, I had high hopes for the new album.
Revolution Radio aims to unite the world in the midst of the tragedies that have overcome all of our news stations on a daily basis. It is largely based on specific events that have occurred over the past few years that have changed the whole dynamic of society, including mass shootings, the Black Lives Matter movement, and terrorist bombings.
The starting track, “Somewhere Now”, begins acoustic, giving an almost classic rock vibe until the breakdown around the 0:50 mark. Admittedly, I was immediately reminded of some of Green Day’s older tracks. This was both good and bad. On one hand, I was happy to be listening to the Green Day that I loved. On the other, it sounded almost too similar to their old tracks, particularly to “Homecoming” from American Idiot. The album continues to follow this pattern of bringing up some chords and rhythms that are reminiscent of past songs.
An area where Revolution Radio really excels for me is lyrically. Billie Joe Armstrong has always had a way with words that convey a powerful message. “Bang Bang” alludes to a number of mass shootings, particularly in Newtown nearly 4 years ago. Lyrics like “I wanna be a celebrity martyr” play on those who commit suicide after murdering so many people, and how they become too well-known due to the media spreading their names.
The fourth track, “Bouncing Off the Wall”, starts off its second verse with the lyrics “Bombs away, it’s just another day”, showing how common the act of bombing has become worldwide. Much of the rest of the album, like American Idiot, is politically charged while also touching upon the personal struggles of Armstrong.
One of the weaknesses of the album is the lack of cohesiveness. While a lot of the tracks are political, that seems to be the only thing tying the songs together. When listening to the tracks in order, they do not flow together as much as I would have liked, as they do in 21st Century Breakdown. At times, it feels like Revolution Radio is just a collection of singles with similar meanings thrown together.
Revolution Radio is not a bad album, it really isn’t. I would even go as far as to say that I like it. The biggest issue for me is that it isn’t memorable. There is not a track on the album that I see myself going back to in 5 years as one that was an icon of the decade. I appreciate the messages that Green Day is trying to send and I think music is a great way to transfer these messages, but the album fell just a little bit short for me. Hardcore Green Day fans will enjoy the album. Anyone else will probably never hear more than one or two songs. Revolution Radio is a remake of the legendary American Idiot, and it had the potential to be amazing if Green Day hadn’t forgotten to add the legendary part.