Music: Green Day, REVOLUTION RADIO

revolutionradio#1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, week of 10/29/16

What it is: The 12th album (or 10th, depending on how you count ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tré!) from the venerable pop punk trio Green Day.

Green Day was one of the first bands I “got into” when I was young. I discovered them through TRL airings of their 2000 single “Minority” and was well-versed in all their albums back through their 1990 Lookout! Records debut by the time they released their 2004 political rock opera American Idiot, which I loved as much as everyone else on my high school swim team. By the time they released the follow-up 21st Century Breakdown in 2009, I was done with them. I listened to the lead single “21 Guns,” didn’t really care for it, and never bought the CD. I hadn’t decided that their music was lame or that they had somehow lost their touch; for some inscrutable reason, I had just moved on.

So I don’t know if this new album doesn’t resonate with me the way their earlier stuff did because it’s not as good or because I’m just a different person. Probably a little of both, I guess. It doesn’t have the rock opera conceit of American Idiot (although bookending the record with sister songs “Somewhere Now” and “Forever Now” gives it a bit of overarching structure), which inherently makes it seem less grandiose. But on earlier albums, the band got by solely on their ability to craft monstrously cathartic sugar rush pop songs, and I just don’t really sense that knack here, although stuff like “Outlaws” comes close. Again, maybe those pleasure receptors in my brain are just burned out, or maybe they’d get fired up again if I gave this more than two listens, which I generally do with music I’m not just listening to out of obligation for a blog.

A lot of lyrics on Revolution Radio address middle age and obsolescence (“How did a life on the wild side/Ever get so dull?… All grown up and medicated”), which brings up perhaps a more interesting question than whether or not this album is good: Who is this album for? The Gen-Xers who got into Green Day through their 1994 major label debut Dookie? Millennials (like me) who found them through American Idiot? Kids today? The idea of teenagers in 2016 idolizing a band that I loved in high school, let alone one that entered the mainstream when I was six years old, seems crazy, and yet they must be if this album has made the top of the charts. And that kind of warms my heart, even if Revolution Radio itself didn’t.

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