Green Day are a band that have a big divider, much like Metallica. There are a lot of fans who “only like the early albums.” A little over two years ago, they put out their newest effort titled Revolution Radio, and to be honest, it’s their best effort since my favorite Green Day record Warning dropped in 2000. Revolution Radio is a very straightforward disc that stays consistent, brings out different songwriting techniques, and touches on very realistic and relateable subjects. You can also find subtle hints from earlier works mixed into this.
There aren’t very many recent songs by Green Day that I would consider to be punk; in fact, they haven’t really done a full punk album since Insomniac. However, one of the big hits from this album, “Bang Bang,” pays total homage to their earlier era with fast riff work and a punk-driven attitude. Plus, the satirical way it tells the story of a school shooter really fits the shoe as well. Other tracks such as “Bouncing Off The Wall” and “Youngblood” use more of a pop charged development, with chants, major keys, and upbeat tempos.
Something that I love is that no matter where the songs go, they all consist of heavy melodies and vocal harmonies to the max. The couple songs I mentioned use this in some way. Even the softer songs tend to implement build-up and break into harder guitars to follow a slower verse. One of my favorite tracks from this, as well as the one that got me hooked, is the smash hit “Still Breathing,” as the transitions, fills, and lyrical message in this are spot on (not to mention it got me through some pretty tough times). There’s even more method to their madness, as different instrumental tones and strong transitions are scattered everywhere. “Somewhere Now” has a very consoling acoustic intro that leads into your usual hard rocker. “Say Goodbye” scales the harder guitars back and focuses on clear delivery. “Youngblood” switches back and forth, using the softer guitars for instrumental harmony and the edgier ones for attitude.
Billie Joe Armstrong’s voice in this is as on point as it’s ever been. He’s never been known for having a huge range, but the keys and delivery on this are stellar. He conveys happy, sad, and almost sarcastic emotions very well. Songs like “Troubled Times” give off a feeling of concern and worry. The track following it, “Forever Now,” almost has an epic feel to it that ties every track together, and the instrumentation leading up to the throwback to “Somewhere Now” couldn’t have been written any better. Once again, the backup vocals and harmonies on this are off the chart. The title track focuses on an upbeat feeling but hints at underlying trouble.
Man oh man there’s a lot to get from this, so I’ll try and dumb it down. Revolution Radio is a compilation of tracks about realistic situations that combine strong melodies, even stronger harmonies, hooky instrumentation, advanced transitions, and sporadic changes in tone into a blender that ultimately ties itself together in a consistent manner, topped off by an acoustic ballad known as “Ordinary World” as a closer. The newest Green Day album is absolutely spectacular, and there isn’t a single bad track on it. The previous few records don’t hold nearly the strength that classic Green Day does, so this was a nice return to power. Those who like to divide bands into “the good and the bad,” I urge you to give this one a fair chance.
Revolution Radio was released on October 7th, 2016 through Reprise Records.