Release Date ► 2016-10-07
Length ► 44:29
Label ► Reprise
Formats ► Digital, CD, Vinyl
Bold, brazen, troubled, forlorn, and motivated, Green Day’s latest is a return to form for the trio. Returning to the politically charged sound that made American Idiot a landmark album over a decade ago, Revolution Radio is raw and crunchy punk rock that epitomizes the recent upheaval and revolution happening in America. While it may not have the same impact as Idiot since tastes have left this genre of music behind, it is nevertheless a powerful piece of art that if anything symbolizes the attitude and feeling of its time.
Crushing guitars laden over memorable hooks and melodies are blended with lyrics about a harsh and defeated world covered in blood from the numerous atrocities that has become commonplace in the world. Unlike the call for uprising, and defiance in American Idiot, Revolution Radio is the sound of insanity and despair. The songs are much more chaotic and guttural than in American Idiot and it sounds more like an amalgamation of Idiot’s sound with that of the band’s Uno!, Dos!, and Tre! albums. Most of the songs blaze through their message like the mass shooting anthem “Bang Bang” or the youth rebel driven “Youngblood.” The band’s delivery is tight, concise, and focused; they haven’t sounded this inspired and visceral since the 90s.
Green Day doesn’t completely forgo the use of more pop friendly songs as it’s been part of their sound since Dookie. Songs like “Say Goodbye”, and “Still Breathing” utilize pop melodies and backing vocals palatable for a mainstream crowd. However, the desolate feel of the album isn’t lost as a result of the lighter compositions, thanks to the band’s unflinching performances and singer Billie Joe Armstrong’s lyrics. Even the ballads such as the disillusioned “Somewhere Now” or the one beacon of hope “Ordinary World” still retain the album’s theme of chaos. In fact, one negative from this is that the album lacks immediately captivating songs such as “American Idiot” or “Holiday,” with only the relatively safe “Still Breathing” being left to hold that torch alone.
Armstrong’s lyrics are some of his most strong and distraught yet, as each song cleverly and sharply depicts people reeking of desperation. Lines like “I got my photo bomb, I got my Vietnam” and “The dawn of the new airwaves for the anti-social media” detail a new type of hell for a new kind of generation. The songs detail individuals who have grown up to an uncertain world, a world where they are already too old to make a difference and too young to be complacent. Many are clawing for some kind of positive reinforcement, like intentionally short lived fame in “Bang Bang” or good times from the past in “Outlaws.” Armstrong is now a man in his 40s and it’s very possible if maybe he wonders if his work from a decade prior truly made an impact. The epic “Forever Now” near the end of the album seems to exemplify this the most.
Arguably, that’s what makes this such a powerful album. Not only is it a successful return to the political outcry of American Idiot, but it’s expanded upon by turning inwards and making it more personal. It’s what makes it more real, more in your face. It’s what gives this album such confidence. Whether it reaches the heights of American Idiot is questionable, but it does comes close. It surpasses its followup 21st Century Breakdown, and ranks up there with Green Day’s best work. Its 44 minute runtime means it’s all killer, no filler, and if anything, you’ll wish there was more. Give it a listen, internalize it, and start a revolution, first from within, and then expand out.