It’s no secret that Green Day have evolved far from their early punk roots and that a completely different bloodline has followed since American Idiot. If you recall, my favorite album from them since Warning was 2016’s Revolution Radio, perfecting what they’d been doing for about fifteen years. Father Of All Motherfuckers (sans “Motherfuckers” for mainstream purposes) is an entirely different animal of its own. Between everything Green Day has put out in their career-spanning about thirty years, they’ve never made a stylistic jump this huge.
For those that haven’t heard the lead single “Father Of All…” yet, this disc introduces what feels like an entirely different band. Rather following the tracks of recent efforts containing catchy pop/rock tunes that sit well with Blink-182 fans, they went a route that’s more indie rock than anything. Mix in a vocal style that Prince nailed, and rhythm patterns/tropes popular with Cage The Elephant, and you’ve got Father Of All Motherfuckers. If that isn’t weird enough, they also decided to spit out ten songs in under twenty-five minutes, which is even shorter than their punk-loaded debut.
What’s interesting is that they managed to throw so many different ideas into a short amount of time. Admittedly, there are some consistency flaws, but the songs themselves are pretty swell. There are far fewer signs of harder distortion, despite what the band have always been known for. “I Was A Teenage Teenager” comes close to that because of its crisp chorus. But everything leading up to it is more focused on bass thumping and pop-loaded verses. You can also get familiar feelings from “Sugar Youth” for the same reason, if not for the brief and punchy delivery as well.
But the majority of this is made even more unique due to different ingredients. Ones that hold the neatest attributes touch several grounds. “Stab You In The Heart” is one of my favorites, as it almost feels like a ’60s surf-rock ditty that tampers with the alt-rock formula. “Meet Me On The Roof” takes those aforementioned indie rock-isms and feeds them through a similar shape, laying down piano passages and different layers. Closer “Graffitia” summarizes everything perfectly, blending alternative rock, pop, indie, and classic rock together nicely.
I’ll admit that the end of this tapers down some, save for “Graffitia.” The earlier tracks are the most straightforward with this experiment, and the center holds a lot of the stand-out gems. But there are certainly some that don’t sit as well as others. “Junkies On A High” is a slower-paced crawler that feels like it’s leading up to something, but just somewhat leaves you hanging. Of course, nothing is abstractly bad, but don’t let the whirlwind of changes cover up casual mistakes.
For the old fans, do proceed with caution. My first listen of Father Of All Motherfuckers wasn’t pleasant, but boy does it grow on you. Looking at it as a work of art on its own and not trying to relate it to the past of Billie Joe Armstrong and co. is the way to go. If nothing else, this was a change that was ballsy but necessary, as everything since American Idiot followed the same path that had reached its peak previously. I’d love to see where they go moving forward, and it’s really impressive that the same three dudes have maintained such a strong catalog for so long.
Father Of All Motherfuckers was released on February 7th, 2020, through Reprise Records.