Few bands of this generation have been able to stand that test of time as well as Green Day. Though the band started their run in the late ‘80s and thrived off of a fast and aggressive punk sound, they managed to skyrocket into the mainstream market after releasing the critically acclaimed “American Idiot” in 2004. Since then, the band has released a number of similarly thematic albums with generally positive response. Now, for the first time in 16 years, the band has decided to cut ties with the concept album format and write an album strictly for the music. “Revolution Radio” isn’t a perfect album, but there are more than enough moments of glory that deserve to be discussed.
The album opens with a surprisingly country vibe on “Somewhere Now”. Armstrong’s voice is soft and crooning, but switches into a fast rock pace as the song progresses. This softer style is also present on the beautiful closing track “Ordinary World.” The guitar and vocal coupling here is an interesting choice for the band to close a somewhat faster paced record on, but it works. These two moments seem to take inspiration from the work Armstrong did with Norah Jones on their record a few years back.
The record quickly moves into the rock style Green Day is known for on the two lead singles “Bang Bang” and “Revolution Radio”. Both tracks strut a catchy chorus and well developed instrumental riffs. The guitar work in the bridge of “Bang Bang” has an almost egyptian feel to it that blends the halves together well, while the steady bass work throughout both tracks is extremely well crafted. Bassist Mike Dirnt made a point before the album’s release that, despite playing for over 25 years, he took bass lessons in an attempt to perfect this craft. The work he put in is apparent.
The strongest moments on the record come when the band mixes the rock sound they have molded throughout their career with an attempt at something new. “Say Goodbye” takes influence from some newer-aged bands such as All Time Low in the verses with the chanting melody. The chorus has a strong hint of “American Idiot” flavor throughout and is more than welcome.
“Troubled Times” plays into the political views Armstrong is so vocal about outside of his music. He sings “What good is love and peace on Earth if it’s exclusive?” and nails in the message without sounding too preachy. The song also benefits from an aggressive chorus. The longest track on the record, “Forever Now”, works with a two part structure, first quickly paced and aggressive, then ending with a reprise of “Somewhere Now”. It works well and feels reminiscent of older material.
With all of this said, there are certainly more than a few weaker moments. “Outlaws” feels strange coming from the band in it’s current era. The song has a sort of teenage angst that’s contrived and generic. The musicality of it isn’t horrible, as the guitar work and general vocal quality are both well done. In the grand scheme of the album though, it feels unnecessary. “Still Breathing” doesn’t bring anything new to the table whatsoever. The verses are cookie cutter, never once going out of their way to try something new. The chorus is simply dull, leaving much to be desired.
“Bouncing off the Wall” is a track that doesn’t know what it wants to be, mixing a party hard message with a no-risks production that never inspires. It’s these moments on the album that bog the whole production down, leaving it sprinkled with unfulfilling content.
Overall, “Revolution Radio” does many things right and mostly succeeds in revitalizing Green Day’s sound. Though there are a few moments in the middle section of the record that start to weigh it down, they don’t fully ruin what may be the most consistent album the band has released in over 10 years. It surely won’t be a favorite to the older generation of Green Day fans who wants that original punk punch, but the new age crowd should find more than enough here to hold onto.