Many would've thought the bomb of the ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, and ¡Tré! trilogy and Billie Joe Armstrong's rehab spelled the end of the punk rock legends Green Day. Those ideas have been vanquished, as the band's new album Revolution Radio sees them regain their footing.
As Armstrong claimed, the trilogy had "absolutely no direction to them" and were trying to "be prolific for the sake of it," and there's a lot of merit to that. The albums were just a collection of aimless tracks, with no rhyme or reason to them besides the statement and implication of an album trilogy. That disappointment is being them, Armstrong calling Revolution Radio "not so much a makeover as a make under."
Another true statement. The band's recent outputs since American Idiot have been slammed largely because of their failed attempts; 21st Century Breakdown was a second try at a rock opera, and I've said enough about the trilogy already. Revolution Radio returns to the roots of what made Green Day great: songwriting, energy, and character. Lead single 'Bang Bang' - read our in-depth track review of it here - ignited that flame again, rejoicing fans at its politically charged lyrics and high energy riffs. The instrumental's fantastic, a pure mix of alternative rock and punk coming into one energetic track. The song even experiments a little bit, with an eastern influenced bridge, providing a dramatic moment without sacrificing the momentum or message.
Momentum is carried forward with 'Revolution Radio', another single from the record. The fun guitar moments that imitate the melody of the vocals with other little tidbits in between to keep the song going and interesting. Like 'Bang Bang', it's another political statement on social media, but in a positive light rather than a reprimanding one. Other big moments on the record include the true punk riff of 'Bouncing Off The Wall' and the big rock vibes of 'Say Goodbye' that won't fail to pump you up. The great and big choruses of 'Troubled Times' also have strength in its groovy feel and huge output.
The softer moments on the record give some depth to the record. Single 'Still Breathing' is the prime example. It's this album's 'Boulevard Of Broken Dreams', but with the Revolution Radio twist. There's three distinct characters of the song: a child, a soldier, and a junkie at the end of his ropes, all connected by the familiarity with the world's chaos. They all understand that everything may seem horrible and at their end, but as stated in the chorus, which chants, "'Cause I'm still breathing / 'Cause I'm still breathing on my own / My head's above the rain and roses / Making my way away," life will go on and get better as long as they stay positive.
Another ballad-esque song is 'Outlaws', which feels like it came straight from American Idiot in tone. It feels as though this album and American Idiot are joined at the hip, both having the same function but growing independently of each other. There's political confusion and anger present within both, yet they each have their own separate narrative beyond that. Acoustic number 'Ordinary World' ends Revolution Radio, made for Armstrong's movie of the same name rather than the album, speaking of his character's undying punk rock dreams staying true to this day. It almost stays in tune with 'Still Breathing' in a sentimental way. The album opens similarly with 'Somewhere Now', its acoustic folk intro calling back to his folk collaboration with Norah Jones before kicking into its message.
Green Day are back if Revolution Radio has anything to say about it. Gone are the days of gimmick and lackluster attempts at a part two. Politically charged and fired up as ever, the flame within the band has been reignited with a new passion and drive. The band's no longer on the road to demise; rather, they're heading down the road to revolution.
Favorite Tracks: Still Breathing, Bang Bang, Revolution Radio
Least Favorite Track: Youngblood
Rating: 84 / 100