Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown

With American Idiot in 2004, Green Day released one of the best rock albums of the past 20 years. I immediately went from casual fan to huge fan with that record. The music was incredibly powerful, but the lyrics were even more impressive. Green Day was willing to make a rebellious political statement at a time when most of the country was in a collective stupor, consumed by the “war on terror.” They didn’t hold back, and the result was stunning. Bullz-Eye’s David Medsker summed it up in his review of the record.

Green Day’s biggest conceit was that they were what they seemed, a group of snot nosed punks who would rather beat off in front of the TV than take a stand on anything of importance. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. No band writes tunes as sharp as “Longview,” “Geek Stink Breath” and “Hitchin’ a Ride” without some synapses firing. And with their newest, American Idiot, the cat’s out of the bag; they wrote a concept album, which actually brings the band full circle. With songs that both rocked and popped, they were more of a mod band and a punk band, and American Idiot pays heartfelt tribute to their mod forefathers the Who while eviscerating the current pop culture climate at the same time. It’s heady stuff, to be sure; they’ll certainly never get away with acting like slackers again. The world knows better now.

Many fans have been waiting for their follow-up effort, and 21st Century Breakdown arrives in stores in May. Rolling Stone scored an “early listen” to six tracks from the record. We weren’t so lucky, but we bring you their impressions.

As previously reported, the 16-track album is broken into three acts — Heroes and Cons, Charlatans and Saints, and Horseshoes and Handgrenades — and Dirnt told AP magazine that the songs “speak to each other the way the songs on [Bruce Springsteen’s] Born to Run speak to each other. I don’t know if you’d call it a ‘concept album,’ but there’s a thread that connects everything.” The songs are defiant, but also defiantly hopeful, referencing the unsettled political climate as well as more personal and generational turmoils. Its blend of claustrophobia and freedom is well illustrated by the album’s cover art, which depicts a tight shot of a young couple kissing against a graffiti-covered wall.

Defiant. I love it. Can’t wait.

  

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